The modern school system demands the most out of every student that there is, and sadly many students may not be able to catch up with the arduous curriculum present. This is especially so in a high school environment, where mentally challenging and exhaustive subjects such as history, physics and chemistry easily confound students, made worse by teachers skimming through these subjects given such short time per academic year. Thus, the practice of peer tutoring, in which fellow classmates or seniors gather to help each other in their weaker subjects can help to increase the rate and quality of education in a high school, given that it can help to plug various knowledge gaps and is more socially acceptable, given the dominance of peer pressure amongst students. However, this system itself is not wholly advantageous, and that it may be detrimental if peers teach the wrong concepts to each other. Nevertheless, peer tutoring is here to stay in high schools, as on the whole it will help students learn and better understand the vigorous subjects needed to thrive in today’s world.
Peer tutoring can help mitigate knowledge gaps left out by teachers. In the setting of a high school, there exists many topics and subjects to be covered in a short time. Mass covering of curricula needs to be carried out in a short period of time, an arduous task for a teacher to accomplish. Thus, for the benefit of the larger class of students, they will skim through the topics and leave the detailed parts to be covered by the students themselves. However, few students are able to fully understand every single detail of certain challenging subjects and thereby there will exist knowledge gaps that will be detrimental to their understanding and will pull their test scores down. Peer tutoring mitigates this knowledge gap, given that different students are better at different subjects or topics than the other. Imparting their knowledge as soon as possible to other weaker students will allow a more detailed coverage of these topics, reducing or even eliminating these knowledge gaps that may prove to be detrimental to them in the long run, given that the longer these gaps exist, the harder it is to correct misconceptions. Cumulatively, peer tutoring will increase the confidence of previously weaker students, increasing the quality of knowledge and lifting up test scores. Indeed, the breaking down of knowledge by peers into manageable information will allow them to increase the quality of their understanding, and this will save precious time rather than using remedial lessons that insufficiently attempt to plug the knowledge gap.
Furthermore, as fellow tutors are classmates or seniors, it is easier to accept criticism and learn from mistakes, a trait needed in the vigorous and competitive environment in high school. Inevitably, each student will make mistakes in various subjects, and sometimes overzealous teachers may excessively criticize students in their assignments. Thus, students may just shut off and let their grades slide, as they associate the subject with the word impossible. Peer evaluation will allow students to objectively face their mistakes instead of living with criticism, and the motivation to excel will once again be reignited in students. After all, there exists much more knowledge to be found than just the syllabus requirement, and the desire to push further than the boundaries of syllabus can only be achieved by a sustained interest in said subject. Peer tutoring can help to reignite the interest of students, and the consequences of fostering a friendly learning environment where peers help each other will definitely be felt far beyond the classroom.
However, peer tutoring does have its pitfalls; however helpful one’s intent to help the other may have the opposite effects, especially if they do not have a strong foundation in their knowledge, a case of “the blind leading the blind”. Sometimes, peers may just accept the knowledge as it is, and not critically cross check their concepts with an experienced tutor. This combined with the reluctance to criticize their peers even if their foundations are wrong, may prove detrimental cumulatively if the wrong concept is disseminated within a group, and this will show itself in lowered test scores. Thus, it is important that facts must be double checked with experienced teachers, however unpleasant the process may be. Peer tutoring can only be an add on to formal teaching, as the bulk of critically correct facts come from formal tutors. Nevertheless, this system can serve to enhance the quality of teaching especially in academically challenging high school, and this process of mutual teaching will serve well to improve the learning experience in school, whilst not bowing to the demands of an result-oriented culture that we so desire.