Tutoring; A Lifelong Compass

Aug 14, 2019   |   Claudine Choo

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A female student was walking towards a primary school. The sun was relentless as it shone brightly and a trickle of sweat ran down the side of her face. It was worth it, though, as she walked in, past the familiar metal gate that she once used to see twice a week last year; a feeling of familiar, warm comfort enveloped her.

“Cher?” She stepped into the classroom to see a boy looking up at her, his eyes similar to his older brother that she fondly remembers having tutored.

“I’m not your teacher,” she said gently. “I am Jia Ying! I used to teach here.”

The boy’s eyes widened. “I know you! My brother talks about you a lot!”

“Does he really?” She smiled back as she took a seat on the chair beside the boy.

“Yes!” He beamed, eyes sparkling. “Help me? He says you are really, really, really good and you helped him a lot. Help me too!”

Jia Ying picked up the other pencil on the table and the boy’s face lit up even brighter in response.

Such a joy in teaching others and seeing them achieving their goals.

Somewhere else and some time before Jia Ying walked into the primary school, Shu Li was listening to a talk at her junior college. The volunteer on stage was effervescent and bubbly as she buzzed about her experiences with the Heartware Tuition Programme; sulky kids eventually smiling after a long day of school, and tight bonds that took time to foster but flourished beautifully were topics that she constantly reiterated.

Reminded of her own experience after having given tuition to children at the nearby community centre, Shu Li picked up the form and filled in her details neatly. There was a small seed of hope inside of her waiting to blossom, and excitement that fizzed as she wished to meet her new charges.

Shu Li with her tutees from Farrer Park Primary School in 2016.

In a different primary school where you could hear the delighted screams of children as they chased after a soccer ball, Darie, alongside his fellow tutors, ran on the field with the numerous tutees on the last day of deployment. There was a loud shriek of joy as the ball soared and landed neatly within the net. “Good job!” He yelled as his tutee sprinted towards him, smile wide and eyes crinkled with the resounding smack of palm against palm in a spirited high-five.

Darie (with spectacles) with his fellow tutors playing with a group of tutees from Fuhua Primary School in 2018.

There is no denying of the common experience that they all share from having volunteered as a tutor to aid primary school children with their academics.

Darie is now an army policeman with a wealth of leadership experience after having led other tutors and planned numerous lessons.

Jia Ying is sensitive to the needs of her new tutees at the tuition centre she currently teaches in, and aware of the importance of patience and resilience in cultivating a sturdy relationship between her students and herself.

Shu Li, touched and inspired by the dream of one of her tutees to become a policewoman, is open-minded and determined to continue contributing to the community to help members of society lead better and more meaningful lives, such as through her participation in the SMU Law Outreach Club, an avenue to empower and educate the general public and less privileged on legal issues.

These three tutors are just some of the many who have managed to touch the lives of young children in primary school.

Learning is a process that takes place for both parties; schoolwork for the tutees and soft skills not limited to patience and resilience that prepare the tutors for the future.

Beyond lessons, there are also memories that one carries with them after their deployment.

Shu Li’s memory of her tutee’s dream is one that is still fresh in her mind, and Darie is fondly reminiscent of the bright-eyed young kids and their boundless energy during his last day of deployment; such is the colourfully poignant camera roll of vivid recollections and intangible yet valuable souvenirs of a tutor at the end of their tutoring experience.

For many tutors alike the aforementioned three, tutoring is nothing short of an amazing and rare opportunity to touch the lives of others and build lasting memories that bear lessons and values that are hard to be found elsewhere.