In the tuition industry, tutors need to teach and market themselves well to stand out from the competition. To outdo each other, one common phrase that frequently appears in advertisements is to include a phrase on “Best xx Tutor” or something to that effect which xx stands for the particular subject the tutor is teaching.

The word “best” has a wide range of interpretation and will share the following thoughts in the subsequent paragraphs.

  1. Defining the word “best” – How does one define he or she is the best? Grades achieved? Teaching approach? Going the extra mile to help students? Who can solve the questions fastest? Who can engage and motivate the students to learn? Clearly, the word “best” can be interpreted differently by different individuals.
  2. Claiming to be “best” in terms of grades achieved – Tutors will claim to be the best by showing the percentage of students who obtained A’s and B’s as their final grades under their tutelage. Nothing wrong with that claim but if the students were already scoring well or are academically inclined, scoring good grades wouldn’t be that challenging for such students. On the other hand, parents and students can look at “best” in terms of grades achieved from the value-added perspective. What this means is when looking at grades, it is taking into the initial difference from the initial grade upon enrolment to the final grade. Surely, more credit should be given to the tutor who helps a student who improves from U to A as compared to another tutor who helps the student maintain an A grade.
  3. Suggesting to be “best” because of the large classes taught – Some tutors that teach large classes (20 or more) will say that they are the best because they are able to communicate effectively to large audiences without compromising the quality due to effective delivery. There is no doubt in that precise and clear delivery helps students understand the concepts and content. There are also some subjects that may be more suitable to be taught for large classes. However, there is no denying of the fact that many students require the individualised attention of the tutors when they face difficulties while practising the questions. Individualised attention to answer specific questions is impossible in a large class setting no matter how clear the lesson delivery is. Hence, private tuition and small group tuition will be defined as best in the eyes of these students in those instances. Both arguments make sense and it is a matter of different perspectives.

The point to be made in this post is that “best” doesn’t exist. All teachers who are able to make a difference and add value to the students are good and effective teachers. So when you read the headline “best xx tutor”, think again! Let’s agree to disagree.