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Under Pressure: Marlborough’s tutoring culture gets out of hand
Under Pressure: Marlborough’s tutoring culture gets out of handBy Lorraine K. Lee Marlborough girls receive too much tutoring, and the administration needs to assess what ithas (or hasn’t) done to minimize this “need” for tutors. A poll conducted by The UltraViolet showed that 35.83 percent of upper-school girls polledemploy tutors for extra confidence, with the number growing significantly with each grade. Andwe believe that this percent is understated, as few of us know a Marlborough student who has notused a tutor some point during her high school career. The tutor frenzy – from 2000 to 2005, the number of students learning from private tutors orprograms like Sylvan Learning Center and Kumon has doubled – has caught Marlborough girls,whose drive to succeed is even higher than students at most high schools.School should be about learning for the sake of learning. Sure, there are times when a tutor isnecessary to help a student get past the initial barrier to where she can fight on her own to learn asubject. But too often tutors are helping students boost their grade from an A- to an A, and arethe perfecting touch on an already high-quality assignment. If Marlborough girls and parents – the ones who pay tuition – realize that perfection shouldnot be the ultimate goal, and it’s neither the job of the student to get an “A” all the time nor thejob of the school to cater to that expectation, then the overall atmosphere of pressure on campuswill decrease, leading students to be happy doing their best on their own. Something can be said for the student who struggles to understand the material and whodoesn’t have someone holding her hand every step of the way. Something also can be said for thestudent who asks her teacher for help, an action many students throw aside if they have a tutor(“I’ll just ask my tutor tonight”). If a student ends up with a “B” in the course, it was a “B” sheearned by struggling and overcoming challenges the material posed on her own. She not onlylearned the material, but she learned how to tackle problems by using her mind, not her tutor’s.However, at Marlborough, getting a B+ or lower on an assignment just doesn’t cut it for moststudents because they need great grades to get into a great college. Here more than anywhere iswhere pressure from parents – particularly those who can afford significant tutoring bills –comes into play for both students and the school. A student who has learned to struggle throughtough material on her own stands a better chance of taking the greatest advantage of futurelearning opportunities, no matter what college she goes to, than a student who gets into one ofthe top universities in the country based on a tutor doing the struggling for her. But is that formermindset really what Marlborough instills in its students? Maybe it should be.When we first came to Marlborough, hearing that someone had a tutor was surprising – werethey struggling that much? As we got older, it became the norm and the smart thing to do.Students and administration need to reevaluate how and why we learn and why we’re here. Afterall, it is about the learning process, right?