Tutoring is to Education as Coaching is to Athletics
Parents and children would be well served to use tutors in the same way that athletic teams use coaches. If I were the parent of a promising young tennis player, I would immediately seek out a coach with the knowledge and experience to refine those skills and instill the virtues of hard work through organized and intense work sessions. It is hard to imagine a world class figure skater without a world class coach by her side, alternately praising, and cajoling to more efficient, more athletic performance.
As competitors and fans of athletics, we accept, almost without question, the need for a team or an individual athlete to have a fine coach. We expect our child’s T-ball teams to have coaches teach fundamental skills to players of all skill levels. We expect our Super Bowl Championship team to have and retain the very best coaches available to help world class athletes maintain the necessary edge to compete with other great athletes. We expect our last place Major League Baseball team to get a better coach. For an athletic team or athlete to be without a coach is to invite chaos, disorganization and a sloppy work ethic.
Yet, with regard to education we tend to take a more laid back and unassertive approach. I would suggest that education is in large part preparation to compete in a very competitive world. As parents, we should apply the narrative of the athletic team to our children’s education. If for example, the finest young tennis player in the world needs and benefits from a coach, it only makes sense that the bright high school student inclined to love math and eager to pursue engineering as a career would benefit just as much from a qualified math tutor. Of course, the average to poor student would benefit as well from individual instruction.
An English tutor with a special interest in teaching writing skills could help a youngster develop writing skills far beyond his current capabilities. A Spanish tutor could instill a life long love of languages. An algebra tutor could help any math student hit the ground running next school year with dedicated tutoring time this summer. All of us benefit from individual instruction. It is the most personal, most effective, and most proactive route to better understanding, better skill development, and better grades.
Great writers, linguists, and scientists are not born any more than great tennis players or football players are born. They are made through hard work, discipline, and efficient training. When we place a qualified, energetic, and enthusiastic tutor with a child eager for help and open to instruction, and they spend dedicated work time, we see outstanding results. What a great gift and advantage to give to a child.