Cool to be schooled

by Vince Borromeo
(Manila, Philippines)

Published in the Daily Tribune Life
August 31, 2012

Government and well-meaning parents have spent countless resources looking for the most effective way to make knowledge pass on to the next generation. Aside from mandatory educational learning, supplementary learning centers have sprouted near schools to do just that — supplement. Whether or not supplementary education in its traditional form has actually been helpful is subject to debate.

Tutoring, for many, is basically a way to help a student cope with the demands of traditional learning. Many doubt its effectiveness especially those who have experienced the tutor-dependency behavior it tends to foster.

Indeed, an introduction to the Tutoring Club, a children’s learning services methodology that was founded in 1991 by Larry Schwartz, opens the eyes to a new kind of learning.
Yes, “knowledge is power,” as they say. In Tutoring Club, the power in knowledge is not merely affirmed, but cultivated. Tutoring Club employs the science in proven methods of learning.

Tutoring Club is where the “transmission, mastering and proper application” of knowledge is practiced. While traditional tutoring may be seen as a patch-up effort to complete the gaps in a student’s learning process, at Tutoring Club, that’s not the way things work.

Tutoring Club master franchisor Rico Bautista says, “Getting into the habit of helping a child complete homework rather than identifying the weaknesses and strengthening the learning skills will not help a child become a successful learner. Tutoring Club does not subscribe to the band-aid approach of just simply addressing academic tasks such as homework and exam reviews. Instead, Tutoring Club believes in building and strengthening the learning foundation, applied skills and learned competencies moving from basic to advanced levels across all academic arenas.”

The method of grasping the true power of knowledge harbors the real hope for the youth, who, in turn, is the hope of our country. Tutoring Club zeroes in on what students really need to power the application of learning. It has found a way to foster and ease learning into the mindset of its students for application now and in the future. Everyone who wants to uplift their education or their capacity to educate themselves will find a home in Tutoring Club.

The logic behind Tutoring Club’s methodology is its ability to teach students to master foundations. For example, a child who has difficulty in Grade 5 mathematics cannot be tutored simply to help him pass his quizzes and his exams. For that child to make the learning useful in Grade 5 and for him to use that knowledge for higher mathematics, he must have already mastered the rudiments of mathematics from Grades 1 to 4 at the very basic level and learned his way up step by step so that his understanding of his subject will come full circle. If he will be taught this way and he masters the foundations he needed in those subjects he will have the capacity to learn and excel in his current lesson and in the future since that foundation necessary for his growth has been laid on solid ground.

The Tutoring Club process

Tutoring Club first identifies a child’s academic strengths and the areas for improvement through a Skills Assessment Test. This test identifies weak learning areas or skill gaps. The identified skill gaps are then targeted for an individualized mastery-based learning plan.

The thorough assessment procedure applies the science of how to learn and master those lessons. I saw that that was the key to the system of the Tutoring Club. It is not a regression into lessons unlearned, rather it is a mastering process of foundations that will become the building blocks of further knowledge. I know of friends who, upon drinking one bottle of beer, regresses into high school behavior again. This regression is quite regrettable and is not what Tutoring Club is all about.

Tutoring Club is an application of the science of learning. It is all about getting to the root of the problem. A child cannot do well in science if his reading comprehension is not up to par with the expected norms of his age. Likewise, progress to more complicated math skills would not be possible if basic addition and subtraction skills are weak. As in anything, the partnership between time and effort is needed for the learning to progress.

Traditional methods vs Tutoring Club’s long-term solution

When a child has difficulty with his academic tasks, parents usually turn to a tutor for an easy fix. The tutor works with the child to review lessons, answer homework and sharpen up for exams.

In my personal experience, a tutor makes a child dependent and will not likely master his current lesson because he missed the foundations he needed. Left without a traditional tutor, a child usually fumbles around his lessons.

Results

“At Tutoring Club, the goal is not only to have each child perform at expected academic norms, but to exceed them and have students strive continuously for excellence in all academic endeavors. And this is made possible through the efficient use of modern educational techniques and scholastic modules. Combined with time-honored systems of instruction to test for a child’s needs, address their goals, and track their progress. After 32 hours of tutoring, a child’s skill in a specific academic field is guaranteed to improve at least one full grade level,” guarantees Bautista.

How this educational science came about

According to Larry Schwartz, founder and CEO of Tutoring Club, “By seventh grade, students need to have mastered their basic math skills. At this point, they will be ready to move into new mathematical territory with pre-algebra. If they haven’t mastered the basics, however, their future success in math becomes highly problematic.” What makes mathematics all the more challenging for kids is that since each skill level builds on the previous one, a lack of mastery in one area makes reaching the next level difficult, if not impossible. Math skills need to be presented logically to kids, but the key steps in mastery are “see it, understand it, and practice it,” Schwartz observes.

He further states, “Students who have not mastered skills during the school year are placed at an added disadvantage over the summer, when there is no opportunity to practice and retain learned skills, let alone those that they failed to grasp in class. For Tutoring Club, math skill development and retention is a key summer pastime, and one that is likened to sports camps that kids may attend to keep their soccer, basketball or baseball skills honed between seasons.”

Summer program

The Tutoring Club summer program on math skills starts with a basic diagnostic test. The results are analyzed by computer so they can target the areas that need to be addressed.

From the results of this diagnostic software, an individualized lesson plan for math skills is created, and then administered by a tutor individually assigned to the particular student.

At the start of each one-hour lesson is a pre-test check of 15 problems. The incorrect answer which a student gives defines the skill sets that will be practiced for that lesson. The next lessons pre-test questions will progress in difficulty from easier to harder. Each lesson is made relevant according to the needs of the student.

“We don’t leave a lesson until a student has mastered the material being practiced,” says Schwartz. ”Two 100 percent lessons in a row for that skill level indicate mastery, and we move on. Building and retaining math skills can seem like climbing Mt. Everest to some kids, but our goal is to make it more like overcoming one mole hill at a time and we literally leave no child behind.”

The guarantee

Tutoring Club not only provides the proper learning environment and know-how to learn math skills during the summer months, it also promises an unprecedented guarantee in the process: students will improve by one grade level within 32 hours, or the tutoring sessions will continue at no additional cost until that goal has been reached.

This sounds like music to a parent’s ears as it sounds like a reasonable guarantee for every peso spent in Tutoring Club. With Tutoring Club, the sharpening of the mind is optimized.

The first Philippine branch opened in 2007 in Makati, for students at all levels of academic ability, from elementary through high school. Tutoring Club franchises currently operate in nearly 200 locations throughout the United States.

For inquiries, call 0918-8188867. For more information, log on to www.tutoringclub.ph

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