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  • Principal Patrick Low

Learning Smart: The Story Thus Far

Updated: Jul 30, 2019

I grew up in a small Kampung in Malaysia where learning was fun and free. I was 20 when I moved to Singapore to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering with NTU. In 2003, I graduated. It took a bit of navigating for me to find my way into teaching as a profession—but it is not one I regret.

For a while, I taught with MOE in a neighbourhood secondary school. It seemed like the perfect choice at first, but strangely, it never felt enough. All I wanted to do was to be with my students, explaining new concepts to them, coaching them as they overcame hurdles of examinations. Yet, the reality of being a school teacher was not simply so. A lot of my time was spent dealing with administrative tasks, settling CCA matters and going for meetings after meetings. These duties burdened me and I became restless. I only wanted to teach—so I wasn’t satisfied with how little time I was getting on the ground with my students.

With these regrets, I quit the school. I joined a couple of major tuition centres—Mavis, Stalford, then Soloman Lab—in hopes of turning things around. These years taught me invaluable lessons with regards to teaching; each student I met was unique and gave me something special to remember along the way. Then I finally made the switch to become a full-time home tutor.

No doubt, I still loved teaching. I still loved seeing my students weekly. Their progress always made me proud. Their growth inspired me. Yet, I was isolated. I had no colleagues and few goals. If all I only wanted to do was to teach—why was I feeling so lost?

It felt like my career had come to a stand-still.

My friends would ask me, “Why don’t you find a proper job?” I always called myself a professional tutor. They never saw it as a profession.

There are many assumptions about private tutors in Singapore. People wondered if I was looking for the extra income, or if I couldn’t get the job I wanted. This was the job I wanted. Yet, the negatives weighed me down. I started to envision a brand of respectable, qualified and professional tutors. I wanted to empower serious tutors by connecting us and leading constant growth. This was the birth of Learning Smart.

I wanted Learning Smart to be the birthplace of great tutors. They are rare to just chance upon—but possible to make. I do not believe that anyone is born a good teacher. Most of my tutors come into my agency lacking in some aspect or another. But great teachers can be inspired and trained. When I hold sharing sessions with my tutors, we discuss our experiences, the good and the bad. We listen to each other and learn.

Tutors are stronger bonded together. When we work together, we enrich our growth.

Looking to the future, I have big plans for Learning Smart. We are looking to develop our own teaching materials. We are constantly testing and coaching our tutors. We want the best lessons for our students and the best tutors who want to stay. There is a standard that I want Learning Smart to reach. Though we are not there yet, we are always trying our best.

I am grateful to the teachers who have stuck with me through thick and thin over the past few years. We are tied together by our friendship and our common belief in the importance of our jobs. Between us, we recognise teaching for its purpose in our students' lives. Beyond just teaching skills, we are in a place to build the characters of our future generation. This is what Learning Smart is truly about.

I always look forward to meeting more teachers with the same vision as me. If your dream is to become a great teacher, I welcome you to join our team.

Principal of Learning Smart

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