Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Educational Differences: Tutors

(PICTURE: That's me on the left.)

Here's another big difference between studying in America and studying in Vietnam: Vietnamese students have A LOT of tutors. Most of my private students have between 9 and 12 extra-curricular learning sessions per week. Some of the sessions aren't one-on-one (like when I teach them) but are done at teacher's house with a group of students. However, when they're not in "school" they're always being schooled somewhere.

As I've mentioned before on the blog, I generally teach very affluent kids but I'm pretty sure this isn't only true for the rich. About three nights a week, my cleaning lady's son has a math tutor who comes to our building and teaches him.

I've come up with a few reasons Vietnamese kids have so many tutors/extra classes:
1. Students attend school for less hours in Vietnam than in America. Most of my private students study at school from Monday-Satuday from 7:30 AM to around 12:30 PM. This is about two and a half hours less than American students generally attend school (minus the Saturday part).
2. Vietnamese value education. Education here is really as much on a parent's shoulders as it is on the child's. This hit home for me recently when I saw an award at Huyen's house that was given to her father. The award was for having raised three children who attended university (he'll probably get another now since Su was accepted to school too).
3. In Hanoi, there aren't exactly a lot of things for kids to do outside after school. Most of my students say that in their free time they either play video games or chat online. Sure there are parks all over the city but they usually seem to be void of children every afternoon.
4. Besides the university entrance exam which I've gone into detail on in the past, there is also a Grade 10 exam for many of the best schools. For example, if students want to attend Hanoi Amsterdam High School -- considered to be the best public school in the city -- they must pass an entrance exam for Grade 10.

Mom, tell me if I'm wrong but I think I had only one tutor growing up and that was for the SATs. And trust me, I'm not complaining. For me, Vietnamese kids study too much. My family valued education (my father was on the Board of the Board of Education for most of my childhood) but also understood the necessity of balance in life. I can't tell you how many times I've felt thankful for growing up in a suburb where my friends and I could play roller hockey in our driveway or on a school blacktop after the final class bell. Often in Hanoi, I feel like kids don't get to be kids a lot of the time.