Picture Source: J!NX T-shirt Design
I've started giving tuition since last week; Primary 5 Math. Giving tuition never really crossed my mind as a job to take up. EVER. I've subjected to the notion of "having to be good at something before you can teach it", and I'm not so much of the top-notch student back in my days in school. Plus, having uncontrollable groups of pre-schoolers in my old job teaching IT, I don't think I'm "teacher" material. But I'm trying, anyway: The Father said "go try it out!", and he always thought teaching is a good profession. And the extra money's good.
Tuition kid's one of my mom's ex-student. Well-behaved chubby-cheeks boy, very shy, apparently very weak in math: he scored 18 marks outta a 100 for his last exam! His mother wasn't demanding him to get an A after my guidance, just hoping that he'll "just pass". Low-expectations. Cool for me.
For the first tuition session (coincidentally, my birthday) I went through his textbooks and assessment books, going through the various topics. And the second session, I did exactly the same thing. I made him copy the times table hundred of times. He must be bored. I know I was.
The boy was shifting in his chair far too much, and so I popped the question: "Do you like Math?"
Boy shook head.
"No, you cannot not like Math. It's really useful!"
I asked him whether he knows what's a cheque book. He said his mom had one.
"You know why they made you "write the numbers in words" all the time? Because when you write a cheque, you'll need to write the numbers in words!"
Yes. Write $2303 in words. Two Thousand Three hundred and Three Dollars Only. They made us write those things repeatedly when I was the boy's age, but it's a 'skill' I only started using when I was working as an admin staff in my 20s: the 10 years in between of not needing this particular 'skill' had made me rusty when I had to use it again to write the salaries of ex-colleagues and bills.
"Do you have a DS Lite?" I asked. Ah, a smile from him. That got his attention, my attempt to be "one of them", to "fit in". I saw him fiddling around with a Gameboy earlier when I came over to his place.
He shook his head, but mentioned that his friend has one.
Do you want one? I asked, writing the numbers "320" on the paper, explaining that that's the estimated cost of a Nintendo DS Lite.
"How much pocket money does your mother give you everyday?"
"Okay, let us see how many days of recess you must skip before you can get a DS Lite" I said. And so we did our math: $320 is 80 days worth of $4 pocket money. An estimated 20 days of school per month = 20 days of pocket money.
"4 Months without recess. Can you tahan or not?"
He shook his head, grinning shyly.
Gave him more examples to think about: what if he agreed to do household chores and his mom gave him $2 everytime he mop the whole house? Will the extra allowance bring him closer to his "DS Lite Dream"? I could also use the example of the frivolous plan Charis and I had in order to get us to Art School, but better not lah: that story will be more suitable when he's.. of age.
I hope I left the tuition kid something to think about after that particular tuition session. Of course, his mom and dad could just buy him a DS Lite easily without him having the trouble to go through the thinking-process of how to save up for the device. But hopefully he'll use it someday. Knowledge is not king, APPLIED knowledge is king, afterall.