Charging based on who and what you tutor is a problem. Here’s why.

I don’t know whether you’ve ever noticed, but there appears to be an unwritten hierarchy in the tuition industry, which places certain subjects and age groups as more “valuable”/ “important” than others.

There’s something similar in the fine art world. Sculpture is at the pinnacle and is regarded by The Establishment as the highest form of art, the most important and valuable. At the very bottom are things like pottery, knitting and basketry – derogatorily named “craft” by The Establishment – not even worthy of being recognised as art. Landscape used to be considered a much lowlier artform than portraiture (not anymore thanks to JMW Turner).

The Tutor Subject/Age Hierarchy

Non exam-based tuition for primary children is the pottery and basket weaving of tuition, whereas A Level or elite private school exam prep is the sculpture.

Can we please take a moment to reflect how utterly ridiculous (and discriminatory) this is, and how it creates a glass ceiling for what tutors feel they can charge?

And yes, it annoys me because according to this hierarchy, I’m right at the bottom. Which is, to be frank, an insult!

Research is clear that THE most important stage in a child’s learning is the early and primary years. According to this logic, I should be at the top of the hierarchy. However, because working with young children is so infused with patriarchal beliefs that it is menial women’s work (I write more about this here), it is seen as just that. Menial, easy, not important, anyone can tutor primary, helping them become secure with the key foundations for all future learning (reading, writing, maths) is not as important as passing an exam, especially an exam for a top private school or university.

I’m not saying we all hold this belief dear to our hearts, I just think it’s become so conditioned into us that we don’t even notice or question it.

However, I have noticed it and questioned it.

If No Hierarchy – What?

I don’t believe it would be logical to switch the hierarchy so what I tutor was now at the top. Hierarchies don’t help anyone. They keep large groups of people small and suppressed while a minority get the riches.

I believe that ALL learning is equally valid and important, and the abilities needed to tutor someone in learning that thing are equally skillful – it’s just that the skills needed are different.

The skills needed to help a child pass the 11+ are different to those needed to teach someone to play the piano for pleasure, but the tutors are JUST as skilled in helping that person with their EQUALLY valid learning.

I decided to throw this outdated, patriarchal, and elitist nonsense in the bin and start charging according to my qualifications (I have lots of them), skills (I have lots of them) and experience (I have lots of it).

It works for me and it can work for you, and together we can move the tuition industry into the twenty-first century and make it be valued as the highly skilled profession that it is (or should be). That ALL learning is valid and important and the skills needed to help someone with that require training, development and nuance.

I’ve finished recording the videos for my course 10 Steps to Changing How You Charge and once I’ve worked out the tech (and, ironically, what to charge!) it will be available so you too charge appropriately for the highly skilled, top quality work you do, based on your qualifications, skills and experience, not what or who you tutor.

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