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In layman’s language a tutor aka private teacher is typically one who teaches a single student or a very small group of students. Private tutors offer their services to school and college students to augment their learning, hone their skills in the subjects of study in order to help them score superior grades. Gone are the days when one going for tuition was labeled a ‘dullard’. Contrarily, today’s students seek extra help and benefit from the support; the significant increase in the number of private tutors, particularly those of Mathematics, Science, Indian and Foreign Languages augments this. Numerous tutors operate from their own homes, at the students’ homes, or at local meeting places such as a learning academy or tuition centre.

By and large, private tutors work with individuals or groups of students not only to enable them to complete their assignments, but also help them enhance their knowledge of a subject. The principal objective, however, is for excellent marks, a prerequisite in today’s context. By identifying individual learning needs, tutors could extend the necessary facilities and learning environment, evaluate students’ progress to reinforce the classroom learning with intermittent testing in an informal atmosphere. At first glance, it appears to be a set of simple tasks – merely tutoring and testing. Unlike in a school environment, where the number of students could be around fifty, a private tutor, by virtue of dealing with a small number would be in a position to give personal care and attention. What then could be the challenges posed?

In this context, I wish to spell out that the private tutors attached to institutes coaching students for the Board examinations and Entrance Examinations are not the subjects being discussed. Firstly, the private tutor has to correct the mistakes made by the student while copying into the notebook. (No offence to teachers! nevertheless, the eye fatigue of the teacher is to be taken into consideration, owing to the number of copies evaluated each day, day after day…) Secondly, under the Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation system, students are required to complete a number of projects and reports, which involve reference from various sites. As a vast majority of parents happen to be employed, the private tutor is the expedient to offer valuable guidance in the project. And this, often takes away the ‘study time’ allotted for the students.

Further, tuition teachers do not enjoy a status better than the domestic help. Their absence makes things harrowing, the presence is often taken for granted, needless to say, without due recognition for the extra special effort put in, in terms of offering holistic education to children under their care. Often, private tutors end up babysitting young children for more than the stipulated time, just because the parent was tied up with some urgent work, hence, could not pick up the child in time. An attitude issue, more often!

Burgeoning tutor population and the commercialization of private tutoring is an observable fact in recent times; the lucrative business opportunities for tutors, partially because of the tax-free income they enjoy, more so owing to the flexible working hours in comparison with the high-flying jobs, that offer little respite. The work-flexibility has been the major cause for luring stay home mothers (SHMs) into the scenario. Not only does it boosts the self-esteem of the SHM, but also brings in ‘pocket money’ for personal needs – a big step towards woman empowerment.

Having said this, it would be worthwhile and rewarding for every private tutor to keep abreast of the changes in learning techniques in order to extend the ‘comfort zone’ to children under their care. Technology has been beneficial and harmful to children in the way they think and act. A sizeable number of children today experience difficulty in learning owing to multi-fold psychological issues. A private tutor who monitors and closely observes the learning curve of students would be able to identify such problems, counsel students if possible, else, advise parents to seek professional advice. As the adage goes, Prevention is better than cure.

Through meticulous working, the private tutor could carve a niche in the informal environment by emerging confidante, mentor and facilitator – all rolled into one. Quoting the words of Alexander the Great, about his teacher, the legendary Aristotle – “I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well.”

Reflections in Retirement

Jayshree Misra Tripathi

This New Year will be different for me, even special, as it will be my first New Year in retirement. Not my retirement but my husband’s – at the age of sixty, after 35 years of service in government. The age of retirement seems odd, when politicians are voted to work on well into their 80’s.Judges of the High Courts retire at 62 while those on the bench of the Supreme Court remain till they are 65.Many foreign diplomats work into their 70’s.

Anyway, here I am with him, trying to finish unpacking hundreds of dusty cartons, collected over the past decades and stored in the anticipation of this time in our lives.Bubble-packaging takes up most of the space in the cartons. As I unroll each carefully sealed sticky-tape, it evokes images of a childhood game, ‘Pass around the Parcel’, only here, I would need to remember where I had bought the item or the person who had given it to me. Strange that visions of some of the packers flit to and fro through my misty vision, though I cannot quite place them all in context. As I open a hand-painted small tea-set, I think of my packers in Korea almost thirty years ago, who enjoyed the chai and samosas at 11 am and at 4 pm during their three days in our home. They presented me with this gift, saying I was kind and to remember them when I drank chai! I said I was just doing what we all do back home in India!

What hopes we had all those years ago, travelling thousands of miles across the continents, to seven countries, away from our parents, grandparents, friends – into new environments and diverse cultures and making new acquaintances. At the end of each posting, we would talk of future family gatherings in our home -of a lush green lawn that you could sink your feet in and breathe in the familiar air, then chase butterflies through the colourful flowers in bloom. We spoke of finally being near and living amiably with relatives and long-lost cousins and old friends.Alas.The pollution from vehicular traffic in front of our house is a health-hazard.

I place all the clothes and jackets that are wearable, gently-used, to one side – for the winter collection by local youthful volunteers.Its heartening to see them doing their bit so whole-heartedly, going into the streets and slum-tenements, inter-acting with the children.There are many books our adult children have said we may give too, and toys. It is with great love that I pack away these items- as each has memories of glad joy, even some sorrow, etched into its fabric, including every dog-eared page. A bit of my life ebbs away with each parting gift, but as I straighten up, I know a new little person will feel the same joyful emotions and be warm for a while – till he or she outgrows them too! This is the end of the road….just twenty odd boxes of such items, as we had always given away wearable clothes and some household kitchenware before leaving each country of residence.

The Deep-Fat French Fries Fryer that found its way back here is given away for free to the kabaddi-wala (*collector of old items), but I caution him that the plastic handle seems unsteady – I am unprepared for his toothy grin and “Chips”! Each item must be usable, the husband admonishes – Yes, I know. But we need to stop eating French Fries at our age and re-discover the magic of greens and healthy options.Of exercise or walks at a steady pace. Of the need to slow down and de-stress.To sleep early or get-up late, if we wish.

Our books are treated with great respect and we are going to re-read our favourites and those yet unread. Perhaps the spouse will start his carpentry again and his painting…the yacht does actually float – tested in a bathtub 24 years ago! The fire engine with its ladder and hose pipe has not been found yet…the treasure hunt continues!

I wonder at it all, this coming home, to retirement – this is the ultimate ‘coming of age’. It is not easy. It takes longer to get things done. It is tiring. It gets a bit boring, all this unpacking, but its for the last time. There is a sense of apprehensive finality. I have travelled the world since I was 5 years old. I am at some intangible cross-roads, full of indecision, torn between taking – off again or digging roots, at this late stage of my life.

I miss the clean cities I have lived in. I despair at the illiteracy around me and the sudden development – in uneven graphs, that defy the imagination. I am pleased that people are earning more, but saddened by the lack of civic consciousness.I am angered to see people on motorcycles, scooters, auto-rickshaws, even in cars – breaking laws by not wearing helmets, disobeying traffic rules, impervious to their surroundings,showing no respect for pavement-walkers, driving on the wrong side of the road.

But I am getting used to side-stepping past the old bulls that come to rest on the pavements,so stoic and at odds with the chaotic traffic, the congested city-dwellings and footfalls. I am becoming an expert at ducking sudden projectiles of paan (*betel-leaf)-liquid on my way to the corner store!

Yes, I have time to stand and stare now. In retirement.

This piece first appeared in print at the Huffington Post India.


Some people decided to ignore me,
I respect their decision.
Some people Love me unconditionally,
I respect their emotions.
Some people call me best the way I am,
I respect their reverence.
Some people call me a brave Chevalier,
I respect their imagination.
Some people call me an emotional fool poet,
I respect their commiseration.
Some people call only when in need,
I respect their requirements,
Some people call me an achiever,
I respect their encouragement.
Some people call me a loser,
I respect their greatness.
I respect you, I respect others,
and above all
I respect a respect called as self-respect.

Dinesh Kumar Jangra (DJ)
Hisar, Haryana, India
Published books- Dastan E Tau, Kavi Ki Keerti
Upcoming books- Prem Ki Pothi, Dineshawari Geeta, Fakiri Muskan
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