JC Maths Tutor
Rafiq Tan Tzu Yen, BSc
Creator/Director of JC Math Tuition running the Sufique Math Tutorials program
From as far back as my days in primary school through to The Army and university, I have always been fascinated with learning and the art of it. The simmering pot of students and teachers in the schools (and I consider The Army one, too, for all its purported functions) I had attended often piqued me in the aspect of their intended existence – learning, teaching especially in the art of instruction, and effectiveness of both when in practice.
It is nearly a lifelong preoccupation for me in the pondering of why two students under the same teacher/instructor can produce widely varying results and why two teachers, despite teaching the same subject/topic with identical materiel, can be effective for one even when handling a class of 40, while the other running a much smaller class can end in abject mission failure.
It went beyond mere pondering for me at University, when in a fit of chivalrous zeal to help the less fortunate, I and some like-minded friends volunteered to start and run a charitable tuition program for secondary and pre-U (jc) students in our spare time at the Young Women Muslim Association. And thus began my journey as a teacher/instructor/tutor.
The students we attended to there were a very diverse group in terms of learning ability and motivation to learn. We, the tutors, learnt as much if not more, from the students as they had from us. Most of the students would have been classified as “difficult” in their schools, and we, the volunteer undergraduate tutors running on pure enthusiasm, were learning our craft by trial. For every breakthrough I had, and there were many, in alleviating a stalemate in learning, the sense of fulfilment is indescribable. The thrill of empowering a fellow human to ownership of his/her mind, one can get drunk on it. I was hooked.
A stint after graduation, as a relief teacher for a semester and then a cadet teacher for another, teaching Biology, Physics and Mathematics at Queensway Sec, RGSS and Jin Tai Sec, and providing one-to-one tuition in the said subjects along the way cemented my calling. From all these burnishing experiences, an original ambition of farming was abandoned for a career in tutoring my favourite subject for teaching: Mathematics.
From all those years starting in 1989 till today, I have witnessed a plethora of student types; (math) syllabus changes; and the handiwork of teachers – good and bad, fresh and retired – upon their students. In all, I can conclude that pedagogy is more an art than science and fortunate is the student who is in the hands of the immaculate artisan in this field.
In my own striving to be such an artisan, I have also developed my math tuition program, the Sufique Math Tutorials, which aims to be the Rosetta stone of math exams and tests at secondary and pre-U level. For all the students who have come to rest in the arms of my program, I have vowed that no one shall get left behind. I will soothe their fevered heads stressed from seemingly complex concepts and theorems; walk with and carry them along their journey to the battlefield that is the exam hall; and I shall avenge for them all the wrongs they suffered in the hands of incompetent and indifferent teachers. For me, this is more than a job, it is also a mission.