I was asked an interesting question recently.
Is it right that I, as a tutor, help our students with their assignments?
My initial response was to defend my job: the job of a tutor isn’t to do the homework for their student (though this depends on the tutor’s personal preference). Personally, my limits are grammatical and spelling editing, and some rewriting to improve expression. However, this is always done with the intention of providing correction with explanation to the student.
Yet the issue continues.
Even if you don’t do your student’s assignment for them, you are still providing them with extra help on an assignment which other students are not receiving.
In particular, well-off students are the ones who are able to afford extra tuition and get help with their assignments. However, poorer students, who cannot afford extra tuition are left to work on their assignments on their own. Theoretically, the richer students then achieve higher marks, and then go on to further education and higher paid jobs. In contrast, poorer students may achieve lower marks and end up in a lower paid job.
It’s a cycle of inequality that continues through to the next generation of children and students.
Although the extra assistance with a tutor may not seem like much, when I really consider it – there is a significance difference and inequality in the extent of assistance tutored students get.
For example, with one assignment, my student would typically have 3 tutoring lessons in which to discuss and workshop their piece of writing. This process involves initially helping the student understand the Module they are studying and the essay question they have been given (if any). Then, brainstorming together the body paragraph points and structure. Finally, there are several stages of revising and editing their draft essay, with emailed and in-person feedback. In addition, the student would also email their draft to their teacher for feedback.
Now compare that level of assistance given to a student without a tutor. At most, the student would email their draft essay to their teacher and receive feedback. However, this would likely occur once, as teachers are managing many students, are sometimes restricted from helping students with assessments, or are unwilling to help outside school hours. The student could also discuss the assessment with their peers, but even then, the feedback is very limited.
This is not to say that I am advertising the fact that tutors give students a great lot of help and that all students should go out and find a tutor. No, really, I am highlighting the fact that, as tutors, we are in a business, which helps the “rich” students achieve higher marks – further increasing the already existing inequality between the “rich” and the “poor”.
I thought this was a really interesting issue to think about and I’m still not sure of how to reconcile it. I suppose some tutors may also do volunteer work, offering tuition to those who are unable to afford it?
And even then, the inequality extends to “rich” students being able to afford better resources, better study guides etc than those who are “poor”.