Chicken or egg

Have lost two pupils recently because I am not God and can’t perform miracles.  All the parents want me to do is drill and get them ready for exams and preferably gain higher marks.  That is all they care about and that is my sole function.  Every time they put the all too familiar textbooks and workbooks on the table I don’t know who is groaning inside more the kid or I.  To be honest I am sick of seeing those books, the contents are mind numbingly boring and the kid knows most of it already.  She is smart, she has been taught it at school already and mastered whatever there is to, so really there is no point going over it again and again.  Yet that is what I am being paid for and I need to play the game or I will have no pupils left and thus no income.

Another dilemma I am facing is the pupils with a weak foundation in English, especially the older ones, are very impatient for progress.  They are keen to score high in their impending exams and feel that my teaching them basic grammar is a waste of time and irrelevant.  All they need is for me to go through past papers with them like a mock exam, give them tips on how to do well.

What they fail to appreciate, even after my patient and diplomatic explanation is that if they don’t grasp the basics there is no way in hell they can score high marks or even pass.  It is our old friends, reading comprehension, speaking and listening and creative writing.  How can they excel in any of these skills if they can’t use tenses properly or spell?

Yes, Ms. Yau we will not abandon phonics or grammar but for now we need you to concentrate on the coming exam.  Could you please go through this practice paper with him?  And then there is this and this and that.  Thank you very much.

The customer is always right.  I am terrified of losing yet another pupil because progress is not fast enough and the marks of their last examination did not go up an iota.  I am not sure I can stand the pressure or the uncertainty.  It is an unstable income anyway, as if the kid or I fall ill, then obviously there is no dosh or if they have an extracurricular activity that day or a short trip or granny comes to town …  The possibilities for me to have loss of earnings are countless.

I wonder if I should go and find a steady job, like do supply teaching except that would interfere with the tuition work which I took a long time to establish and enjoy though this obsession with exams is getting to me a bit.

Having a bad cold and sore throat doesn’t help.  Makes me less resilient against scary negative thoughts.  Ah, tomorrow is another day …


About cho wan yau

Teacher by day poet/writer by night. Words have been my first love and will be my last. As a child I locked myself into the toilet devouring books which transported me to distant lands. Poetry shared penned from 2009-2010 in a titanic struggle to stay sane at Heartbreak Hotel. Please check it out on Any comments or feedback welcome. Why not share your story with me, because we all have one, don't we?

Posted on December 30, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Seong aka Teo Hoon Seong

    Ah that relentless pressure on exams. Here in the Lion City parents enroll pre-nursery children in English AND Mandarin classes. These kids are only just verbal.

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