Rich Students versus Poor Students

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”.

Thoughts?

7 comments for “Rich Students versus Poor Students

  1. iholli
    May 3, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    I agree with your ideas, however I do think that there is still no substitute for hard work. I have never had a tutor, coming from a poorer family, yet regularly out-do those who are tutored. I think this may be because tutored children rely more on their tutors to verify their work and hence work ‘for their tutors’ as opposed to for themselves and their own personal satisfaction.

    Saying that, I sometimes do wish that I had been tutored because of the extreme, and sometimes unfair, advantage it gives other students who are completing the HSC with me, especially in take home tasks.

  2. Rachel
    May 3, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    Although there are some students who are clever and rich and get tutors to help them achieve extra special marks, most of my 30+ students this year (and each year for the past decade) fit into a different category:

    Working class (often immigrant) parents who want the best for their struggling or average child.

    So fear not – you might be tutoring the upper echelons, but in my area – it’s the working class who pay me :)

    And also rest assured – as a High School English teacher at a public school – I give the same amount of time, advice and energy to each of my 200+ students each year, too.

    Love the blog :) Thanks!

  3. May 6, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    I know teachers and tutors (myself included) tend towards the socialist side ideologically; however, the free market governs access to many services even, to some extent, education. My response to the person who challenged you, would be to show them your blog, which is available to all HSC students to read. Private tutoring may not be available to every student but there are so many resources to those who want to find them, not to mention the thousands of passionate and proficient teachers in our public school system.

  4. Amy
    March 3, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Hey :)
    Do you tutor one on one? or do you have a class for your students? I’m in year 12 and looking for an English teacher

    • tutortales
      March 4, 2012 at 6:53 pm

      Hi Amy, I tutor one on one, but currently not taking on any new students as I’m now working full time. TT

  5. Aadil
    April 20, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    I don’t know about English, but IMO tutoring doesn’t really help at all for other subjects like Maths etc. Spending hours at some tutoring centre paying them large amounts of money may help some, but if you work hard there’s nothing better. Most state -toppers aren’t the ones who go to tutoring…

  6. S.
    August 26, 2012 at 12:35 am

    Hi I was wondering if you provide tutoring for law? Im in my 1st year and struggling a little.

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