Education needs passion, dreamers need a platform
Under Hong Kong’s education system, many loving, aspiring teachers are losing their passion as they are occupied with administrative duties that are often too exhausting. In fact, many of those who dream big here are not ready to give up yet.The only thing missing is a platform where they can make their dreams come true. It was enthusiasm behind Ms SO’s decision to leave the conventional education system, landing on the educational stage of Kumon in a different role.With progress in teaching and learning, her interest was further rekindled through Kumon. She has changed many lives and become an educator who really grows with students.
“Not One Less” 2017
Once a Chinese and Mathematics teacher at a local mainstream primary school, Ms SO was well aware that some students with learning difficulties or mediocre performance were not given the best care, but she struggled to find a solution. “I was teaching P1 classes and curious to find that some of my students asked very insightful questions. It turned out that they all had a Kumon background. That’s why I wanted to know what is so special about Kumon as well as the prospect of becoming a Kumon instructor.”
Ms SO discovered that children could gradually and effectively master knowledge, thinking skills, logical thinking and even self-directed learning with the Kumon Method. “I realised that the Kumon Method of learning was strikingly similar to my education philosophy. It goes beyond the limitation of age and school years found in the traditional system. Guided by the principle of adjusting teaching to accommodate individual learners, Kumon disseminates knowledge to address the needs of diverse learners while enhancing learning abilities. As a result, many students who were previously considered less capable have become smart, able to catch up with others.” Inspired by the love and spirit of education in the movie “Not One Less”, Ms SO decided to join Kumon about one and a half years ago. In so doing, she finally made her long-harboured vision come true, helping students unleash their potential with suitable learning plans.
Worthwhile career in education
Ms SO opened her own Kumon centre in Sheung Shui after breaking through the conventional education framework. She said Kumon’s head office supported her a lot during the start up period, “For example, we needed to give presentations to let parents know how the Kumon Method could gradually improve the learning progress of their children, but this cannot be successful without relevant experience. We were fortunate to receive support and training from the head office on all fronts, so we sailed over smoothly. Furthermore, in light of our lack of experience in running a business, we were provided with great assistance, from the centre location, classroom decoration, furnishing and arrangement, licence application to lease negotiation with shopping malls and relevant paperwork.”
“Actually we were fully enrolled in the first two weeks of business in Sheung Shui, and our monthly intake has remained stable ever since. We continue to grow and achieved breakeven long ago, so I think it is worth investing in Kumon as an education career, especially for women. People asked me why I wouldn’t just run a tutorial centre, but to me it is nothing more than an extension of traditional education, and I would have to work until late, which might give me less work-life balance than I have now.”
Students benefit from continuing education of instructors
Ms SO also pointed out that Kumon instructors must continue to learn and keep pace with the times to help students benefit from their teaching,“The company provides new instructors with a one-year programme, which is as strict as a credit-based university programme with credit points. There are also a variety of seminars and group discussions in which Kumon instructors share their practices through student case studies. The brainstorming platform can help instructors enhance their skill of teaching to cater for different needs. This programme not only allowed me to be a diligent learner again, but it also helped me tremendously in terms of personal and professional growth.”
However, what it really means to be a Kumon instructor, according to Ms SO, is the ability to play different roles and learn from children. “As they guide students on the path to self-directed learning, Kumon instructors are no longer bound to the traditional role of teacher. Instead, they are more inclined to the diversification of teaching roles. Sometimes we are gauges of potential, performing diagnostic tests in a practical and scientific manner while observing students’ performance and capabilities. Other times we are evaluators of progress, adjusting learning progress based on students’ test results and our findings so that each student learns at a suitable pace. We can also be coaches for self-learning who work out plans to encourage and guide each student to independent learning based on their abilities and personalities. As such, we are both teachers and friends of our students, who can talk to us about everything and foster close relationships with us. As we have become educators who really grow with our students, each day is as challenging as it is meaningful.”
As education advisors who relieve parents’ worries
In addition to facilitate and care about the growth of students, Kumon instructors may also come across questions from parents about parenting and further education. Therefore, very much like professional education advisors, Kumon instructors must grasp information in parenting, further education, school-based curriculum and other aspects so that they are ready to give parents advice and ease their worries. “As Kumon focuses on home education, the instructors communicate closely with parents, calling for their collaborative effort in fostering children’s development. This is not the same as after-school care offered by general tutorial centres. Kumon instructors and parents develop mutual trust through long-standing cooperation and strong understanding to help children master the ways of learning themselves.”
With access to education consultants and positive results of learning through Kumon, parents feel comfortable with their children learning with us, which in turn facilitates Kumon’s brand building, and accelerates the growth of Kumon. “Reputation is of high importance to Kumon which is committed to human education. Changes in students and recommendations from their parents are the best promotion. This drives a steady level of enrolment and ongoing development of our classes, while giving recognition as well as encouragement to our instructors in their pursuit of excellence in career.”