Dissing: On Tutors

Living in a city where students are forced to fight tooth and nail to secure a place in university – many render themselves as machines that work day and night, going back and forth, to and from tutorial centers to acquire ‘skills’ to tackle the eventual public exams.

As the conventional type of student who, under the societal pressure and parent’s expectations, plan to go study in university and embrace a golden future (as they promised) – I go off to tutorial centers as school ends, gobbling down chunk after chunk of information needed.  After years of going through tutorials, I believe I do have a certain grasp on whether or not the tutor is effective in teaching us and providing sufficient material for the subject.

So, on a humid summer afternoon, I went to an English tutorial class in a rather popular tutorial center, planning to acquire and gobble down the skills one can apply in tests/exams (you name it). First of all, the tutor ended up 10 minutes late, unapologetic and went on combing his greasy hair with his fingers. He then resorted to explain his tardiness with an excuse (and I am not making this up) ‘ You students would be late anyways so it is alright.’. I was going to let that slide until he started to play Youtube videos of him doing makeup on a female companion – not entirely sure if that was professional since half of the video consisted of laughter and incoherent phrases in Cantonese, aka not teaching material for a good 5 minutes. Furthermore, us students are graced with not one, but several phone calls that the tutor had to take, without any explanation.

Secondly, his habit of boasting his students and asking about the schools the students attend struck me as a boastful, conceited, obnoxious fool who plans to wow kids by throwing out names of prestigious schools. His handout, which had a coverage of at least 3 pupils who attained 5** (yes, sure congrats), had their facebook pages, marks and essays out. It was certainly great fun to watch the tutor specify that he himself are friends with them on Facebook, that he actually grabbed their shoulders as they took pictures, and that other tutors are bluffing. The thing is, we as students really don’t care about whether the picture is genuine – we care about the methods that can help us with the public exams. His smirk and arrogant flick of the eye as students introduce their school names simply is an insult – coming from a moderately famed school myself, it is facile to see how NOT EVERYONE from a ‘good’ school is exactly excellent in English or any subjects, as a matter of fact. It is simply an obnoxious and preposterous message he is sending: that students from common schools are weaker – thus not a student for the tutor to befriend. The commercialization behind the befriending process is abhorrent and making me nauseated. It definitely doesn’t make me more confident of you as a tutor with your friendly pats on student’s back – it makes me regurgitate as you neglect and demean less-able students when both types of students are similarly applying for your courses.Thank you very much for consolidating societal ideals that students differ in value by means of their results.

Thirdly of all, his tactics and skills taught are nothing but bullshit (bear with me, by the time I’m reaching this length of a rant my anger is consuming me) – counting words essay by essay to teach us exactly how many words a straight 5** student would need to write seems more of a teacher telling Form 1 students how to write. Sure, that could have been crucial information we have missed – but no use for using up to 20 minutes explaining how many words are needed. State it and hit the road. Secondly of all, giving us completely unrelated ideas such as correlating intimacy with pals as ‘adding them on Facebook as siblings’, to me, is completely jaw-dropping in a bad way.

His cheapening of a language is also appalling – but yes, I do agree that the entirety of the education system is pretty messed up in general with Chinese and English watered down to a set of skills and techniques rather than a culture to be appreciated and understood. Students choose to memorize skills, skim read, mechanically copy sentence by sentence rather than to understand the historical background, the ideals or messages the author wishes to bring; Students choose to fit in difficult words between lines in order to score higher instead of creating a lyrical piece that reflects themselves, and the list goes on. However, his level of rendering a language to lines of garbage is beyond imagination: By throwing grammar and spelling out of the window, one can score high marks on the writing papers is EXACTLY WHAT HE BOASTS ABOUT. He cares more about spectacular results rather than embracing the inherent rules of the language itself – because it is not English that he teaches but cheap dreams that he sells.

Plenty of my school’s alumni have applied for his courses, and have achieved good grades, passed exams with flying colours. Not entirely sure how they got it by absorbing tons of rhetoric without substance in his classes, but congratulations for being another cog in the machine for shameless promotion, utter bullshit and pure insolence.