On page 7 of The Sunday Times this weekend there was an article on a new breed of ‘super tutors’ who can charge up to £1,000 an hour, a rate which rich parents are happy to pay if it guarantees their children to make it into the best schools and universities.
These specialist teachers, of which the majority are Oxbridge graduates, have managed to turn what used to be a part-time job for the likes of students and teenagers into successful careers. One of the tutors mentioned -an Oxford graduate with a degree in chemistry- even left his job as a stockbroker to join one of the many tutor agencies which cater exclusively to young royals and the offspring of rock stars.
At first this story intrigued me- it was just another escapist peek into the lives of the upper class, but the more I read I imagined what kind of pressure a service like this must come with, and the idea became less and less appealing.
In the article one tutor claims he can “teach a child all their times tables in two hours”; maybe I’m wrong, but surely there is some novelty of learning these things in a classroom setting. Although at the time it seemed painful, I now remember with a strange feeling of fondness sitting in a room full of classmates, monotonously chanting numbers at my primary school teacher for what felt like hours. Are these children who are being (silver) spoon-fed knowledge not being robbed of the beauty and joy of learning?
I’ve always enjoyed learning at my own pace, discovering new things and then having the time to marvel at them. If my parents were paying thousands of pounds for me to improve my memory skills, or even to be moulded into the perfect Cambridge or Ivy League student, I doubt I would have the time or energy to enjoy the motions of the education system.
Even applying for university was a great experience; I completed all my applications myself, I had no one coaching me on what I should say to impress in my interviews and I was free to choose a course and university based on what I wanted to study- not on its reputation.
When I secured my place on this course it was an amazing feeling, I had worked hard and earned something, and in a sense it felt like I had done it the right way.