I’ve talked to lots of teachers and tutors lately as part of my journey into customer development. I’ve learned quite a bit from these teachers. One of the things I uncovered is the unique value of 1-on-1 teaching. Interestingly, almost all the teachers I talked to prefer 1-on-1 teaching. So, why don’t we have 1-on-1 teaching in the school system?
It’s All about Attention
We live in an attention economy. Companies are spending millions trying to get our attention from various medium. In such a environment, 1-on-1 is a unique gift from teachers to students and vice versa.
Teaching is about Engaging
Teachers love it when they can engage with students.
In a one teacher to many students setting, it’s hard to create lesson plans for all students. Each student is unique with different learning style. Yet, our schools completely ignored this fact. In most classrooms, we have one teaching style fits all. Schools become a training ground for conformity. Students must learn with their peer regardless of their learning ability or else they will be punished. This results in overwhelmed students or bored students.
In a one-to-one setting, a teacher can create customize lesson plan for the student. As a result, he can engage with the student more.
One-on-one teaching make teachers happier.
Learning is about Engagement and Happiness
For the students, 1-on-1 means they can get the undivided attention from the teacher. Students can learn at their own pace. When they have questions, they can ask without feeling shy. When the material is going too fast, she can ask the teacher to slow down. When she is familiar with the material, she can ask the teacher to speed up.
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience outlines the condition in which we experience happiness. According to the book, happiness happens when the challenge we face matches the level of our skills. We are overwhelmed when the challenge is more than we can handle; we experience boredom when we do tasks that requires little skills.
In a one-on-one teaching environment, teachers can adjust challenges according to the capability of the students. This means a student is more likely to be in the flow channel. She is more likely experience happiness.
So, in other words, 1-on-1 teaching will result in happier teachers and happier students.
The Sad Truth about Our Education System
So, if one-on-one is so great for teachers and students, why don’t we have it in our school system?
Traditional schools simply cannot afford to pay for the 1:1 student to teacher ratio. As the diagram below shows, the ratio between students and teacher is about 16 to 1 in most of the Canadian schools. More or less the same for United States. So, in order to handle the 1-on-1 teaching, most schools will have to run at 16x of their current school budget by hiring 16 times more teachers. This simply will not happen.
Sadly, on the contrary, when the government is under financial pressure, the first thing they do is cutting funding for education. So, when a government is running in debt, the 16:1 ratio will increase.
What Can We Do?
This is the sad truth about our education system. So, what can we do about it? I believe parents should invest more money on private 1-on-1 tutoring. As I have demonstrated here, putting kids into tutoring school with a one teacher to many students setting will not solve the engagement problem.
However, because of the unique value of 1-on-1 tutoring, it tends to cost more. That’s why I started working on my website Learningfy. We seek to bring private tutoring to the average family by making private tutoring more efficient and affordable through webcams. Teachers may teach at the comfort and security of their home, and hence cut down on their commuting cost. This will bring down private tutoring cost while still allow the tutors to keep their margins.
Together, let’s revolutionize the education system. Create more happy teachers and happy students.
If you like this post, please consider signing up to the RSS feed, or follow us on twitter. If you are a teacher or a student, also take a look at our startup Learningfy. You can sign up for free.