Tag Archive for: Education Department

Does Self-Discipline Outdo IQ in Performance?

How do IQ and self-discipline impact academic results?

Valid IQ tests have been available since the early 1900s. We’ve generally thought that a high IQ means better academic performance. How then can we account for such stark variations among learners with the same IQ? The answer lies in laziness and a lack of motivation versus self-discipline and perseverance.

The scientific evidence

In a longitudinal study, by Duckworth and Seligman, of 140 eighth-grade students, self-discipline, measured by self-report, parent report, teacher report, and monetary choice questionnaires in the fall predicted final school results, school attendance, regular achievement-test scores, and selection into a competitive high school program the following spring.

In duplication with 164 eighth graders; a behavioural delay-of-gratification task, a questionnaire on study habits, as well as a group-administered IQ test were added to the study. Self-discipline measured in the fall accounted for more than twice as much change as IQ. This was true for results, high-school selection, school presence, hours spent doing homework, hours spent watching television, and the time of day students began their homework. The effect of self-discipline on final grades held even when controlling for first-marking-period grades, achievement-test scores, and measured IQ. These findings suggest a major reason for students falling short of their intellectual potential: their failure to exercise self-discipline.

What were the results?

In the study, it was found that adolescents with a higher IQ outperformed their more impatient and volatile peers on every academic performance variable. Variables included report card results, standardized achievement test scores, admission into more competitive high schools, as well as attendance. Learners with a higher level of self-discipline also earned higher GPAs and achievement test scores. These learners had a better chance of attaining admission to tertiary education, were absent less from school, spent a greater deal of time on homework and less time watching television and instead started their homework earlier.

Unlike IQ studies, research based on consistent self-discipline was able to predict gains in academic performance throughout the school year. A study by Wolfe and Johnson in 1995 found self-discipline to be the only one among 32 measured personality variables (such as self-esteem, extraversion, energy level, etc.) that was able to predict a learner’s college grade point average.

The effects of poor self-discipline

Sadly, many teachers and parents have witnessed first-hand how some learners have wasted their academic potential. Tutors and teachers will inevitably meet learners who have the intellectual potential to excel academically and yet do not because they refuse to put in the time and effort; they lack self-discipline. So what are some of the reasons for a lack in self-discipline?

According to studies, one reason is the need for instant gratification. For example, Learner A has maintained consistently low or average academic results which are a direct result of his not studying enough or putting sufficient time into his work. Learner A then suddenly decides to study hard for an upcoming test but fails to see much improvement. Learner A then assumes studying does not help, failing to realize that good grades and a substantial improvement in academic results require time, determination and self-discipline. 

What can you do?

Good results are not always a quick fix. Sometimes, improvement takes time and extra work over a long-term period. Brightsparkz Tutors realise the importance of determination and self-discipline. Our tutors will help your learner to improve their academic performance on a long-term basis rather than short term. They do this by motivating learners to do their best, and by making learning more enjoyable. This creates self-discipline! Let us help your learner to achieve their best with our adept and knowledgeable tutors!

To read the full article, visit: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40064361

Get a tutor to help your learner make the best of their IQ!

We’ve Got Talent! The 2014 BrightSparkz Top Tutor Awards

Top Tutors in 2014

Every year BrightSparkz awards the 5 Top Tutors in each branch with a Sparkz Award. This recognizes their commitment to our company, their willingness to go the extra mile with their learners, and their tutoring potential. Find out who was a top tutor in 2014!

One of award-winners, Jeanri Coetzee shares her top tutor tip: Find out about your learner’s interests, whether it is sport or music, and use this in your examples and explanations. This way a learner relates better to the work and understand how it applies beyond textbook theory.”

The categories and winners of each award for 2014 are as follows:

  1. The Back-up Plan Award

Awarded to the tutor who constantly makes themselves available at short notice and who is ALWAYS willing to assist where needed, whenever or wherever!

Winners: Andrew McCabe (JHB) and Jeanri Coetzee (CT)

  1. The Admin King & Admin Queen Award

Awarded to the tutor who demonstrates exceptional administrative abilities and organisational skills on a consistent basis.

Winners: Ben Slabbert (JHB) & Nicola Durandt (CT)

  1. The Longest Yard Award

Awarded to the tutor who has been with us for more than 2 years and has consistently displayed diligence & excellence.

Winner: Alex Arndt (JHB) and Zhuo Fang (CT)

  1. The X-Factor Award

For receiving consistently excellent feedback from clients and for contributing to a dramatic improvement in learners’ results.

Winner: Gail Ingle (JHB) & Alexander Gordon (CT)

  1. The New Recruit Award

Awarded to the tutor who has been with us for less than a year and has shown great enthusiasm & potential along the way.

Winner: Tselane Steeneveldt (JHB) and Ruth Miti (CT)


There was some tough competition, and we are very proud of all of our top tutors for all the effort put in during 2014!

How To Become A Great Tutor

Top 6 Tips for Being a Great Tutor

  1. Have a sense of humour – A sense of humour can help to relieve any tension in a session. It is especially helpful when tutoring learners who are shy and reluctant to learn or to participate. A sense of humour will also ‘lighten’ the mood, making your lesson more fun, give the feelings of going by quicker, and most importantly, memorable. The more memorable the lesson, the more memorable the content learnt!
  2. A positive attitude – Sometimes nerves may rear their ugly head and stress out learners. Stress can result in feelings of inadequacy and a lack of motivation. Times like this require you to be the motivation, encouragement and sense of positivity!
  3. Realistic expectations – An effective tutor will have realistic expectations. Your expectations need to be based on each learner’s individual situation and needs. It is important to set goals that are not too high or too low. Too low expectations can make your learner feel like you don’t believe them or to be lazy while too high expectation can place too much pressure on your learner.
  4. Consistence – In order to create a positive learning environment your students should know what to expect from you each session. You need to be reliable. This will create a safe learning environment for the students and they will be more likely to succeed.
  5. Fairness – A fair tutor is consistent, encouraging and sets realistic goals. A fair tutor will not teach in a hostile or confrontational environment. Instead, he or she will be encouraging when tutoring as well as when providing adequate and helpful feedback.
  6. Flexibility – While consistency is important, it is important to remember that anything can happen and problems may arise at any moment. Interruptions do happen and so a flexible attitude is important when assigning homework tasks and goals.

Problems Facing First-Time Tutees

  • Many learners may be nervous when learning in a one-on-one environment for the first time. Learners may find it hard to communicate how they feel or what exactly they may be struggling to understand. Your job is to create a positive environment that your learner feels comfortable in.
  • Not all learners have received much encouragement with their studies and so might feel doubtful of their potential. It is important that you, as a tutor, take the time to sit down with your learner and set realistic goals.
  • Some learners may struggle to see their tutor as more than an assessor. This is a difficult view to overcome, especially if you are helping your learner study towards an exam. The key is to be open, friendly, and to encourage the learner’s self-assurance so make your style of tutoring non-confrontational.
  • Sometimes you may forget or overlook when a learner may feel obliged to defer to you. This could be because learners are not used to feeling on the spot in a one-on-one environment. A good tutor will notice any such feelings and adjust their tutoring habits accordingly. Tutors should NOT be the only ones speaking during a session. Instead, tutors need to encourage learners to express their own opinions and establish an open dialogue. This will build your learner’s confidence, to encourage them to think independently and will help you (as a tutor) to understand what your learner may have difficulty communicating.

No matter the problem that you or your learner may face, it is vital to be patient with them, and to build their confidence through reassurance and praise. Your ultimate goal is to help your learner become comfortable and assured in the subject, even if they occasionally make mistakes.

Encouraging tutees to contribute

Learners are more likely to engage when:

  • They feel comfortable around you
  • You show them respect and encouragement, ESPECIALLY when they make mistakes
  • Learning is seen as a co-operative exercise, not a militant one
  • You both agree upon realistic and attainable tasks
  • They are encouraged to contribute their own feelings and are not just lectured to
  • Feedback is common so miscommunication does not occur
  • Avoid giving answers to unresponsive or shy. Rather frame your questions in a different way
  • They are presented with open-ended questions that encourages independent thought

When directing discussions it is important to think about and remember to:

  • Give regular feedback that is supportive and constructive
  • To provide corrections in a non-confrontational or hostile way
  • Praise good work and emphasise work done well rather than work done badly
  • Be friendly!
  • Balance tutor and learner contributions
  • Encourage quiet learners, but take care not to overpower them

Closing lessons – To determine how your learner feels about lesson progression, ask open-ended questions such as:

  • What has been the most significant thing you have learned today?
  • Do you have any questions after today’s lesson?
  • Discuss homework that you have given and make sure your learner is able to tackle it with understanding
  • Make a self-evaluation checklist. This can help you be the best tutor you can be and to stay on point!

If you would like a tutor of your own please get in touch today!

Home-Schooling Pros and Cons

The debates surrounding the pros and cons of home-schooling are endless. There seems to be a limitless supply of studies and research done on the matter. We’ve put together some background knowledge and important information about home-schooling in South Africa; a brief analysis of some of the most important factors to think about when considering whether to home-school your children, as well as an short pros and cons list for easy reading.

Some Background and NB Information on Home-Schooling in South Africa

Home-schooling is considered under section 51 of the South African School Act. The Act states that, “A parent may apply to the Head of the Department for the registration of a learner to receive education at the learner’s home.” It is stipulated that a “learner may be registered for education at home if the provincial Head of the Department” is satisfied that registration will be “in the child’s best interest, that the minimum requirements of the curriculum in public schools will be met and that the standard of the home education will at least match that of public schools”. Home-schooling is accepted as a valid schooling option in South Africa. This said; the Head of the Education Department is given discretionary jurisdiction thereof.

Studies by Colfax and Colfax in 1988 founded criticisms against conventional schooling included: “anti-intellectualism, conformity, passivity, rigidity, disorganisation, over-socialising, under-socialising, and testing too often, testing too seldom, failing to acknowledge differences” and “course content”.

Other reasons parents may decide to home-school their children include:

  • Physical disabilities may not always be catered for in public schools
  • Learning disabilities or special needs exceeding that available at public schools
  • The increasing cost of school fees
  • The large student-to-teacher ratio in schools
  • The declining standards of public education
  • A possible lack of classroom education
  • Violence and peer pressure in schools
  • Religious reasons
  • Difficulties experienced by groups who are unable to deal with multiculturalism in schools

 A Brief on Some of the Major Debates Surrounding Home-Schooling

One of the biggest reasons advocating for home-schooling is that each learner grows and develops at different stages and in different ways depending on ability, maturity, and interest levels. One benefit to home-school tutoring is that each learner has access to an education ‘system’ that is tailored to his or her learning pace and needs. This educational freedom applies to parents as well as learners. Parent’s lives no longer exist according homework, school hours and the school calendar. Home-schooling thus enables both parents and learners to set school hours according to their individual needs and wants.

There is also more personal and learning time for home-schooled learners than when attending conventional schools. This is due to a variety of reasons such as less time spent getting properly dressed for school and driving times to and from school and school activities. Additionally, a typical classroom lesson is 45minutes. Another 15 minutes between each lesson is for walking to and from different classrooms, bathroom breaks and getting settled for each following lesson. With home-school tutoring, this time is saved. This means more time for rest and relaxation!

Another problem facing almost any school is peer pressure and bullying. Studies show that, for some learners, bullying and the like can have devastating and even long-term effects. Some findings concluded that self-esteem is more likely to remain intact among home-schooled learners. One counter argument to this notion though is that public schools, through peer pressure and bullying, better equips learners for the harsh realities of the ‘real world’. Some studies even go so far as to suggest that peer pressure and bullying teaches young learners to build character and become emotionally more adept.

Furthermore, one conception is that home schooling provides learners with a better sense of reality in that they are not dictated by adolescent trends and dangerous experimentation. Home schooled learners have more freedom of expression in their dress and physical appearance. But, can the same be said for freedom of thought? There is no one answer to this question. Certain households place greater emphasis on religious beliefs, tradition and familial ideals. Many families feel their religious and spiritual beliefs are an important part of who they are and home-schooling provides the opportunity for parents to incorporate their beliefs into their daily lives. However, there are others who question whether public schools, through exposure to different beliefs, traditions and ideals allow for greater freedom of thought than through familial learning environments.

There are many points to deliberate when considering any means of education. Ultimately, it is up to you and your learner and depends on you as an individual.


  • You are able to decide what, how and when your child learns something
  • You are able to make learning more exciting according to your child’s interests
  • Your child can be given in depth assistance and personal attention according to his or her strengths and struggles
  • Weekly schedules and school outings can be created without the constraints of a traditional learning environment
  • You are able to pass on your values and beliefs to your children and answer any questions that they might have
  • Your children are protected from the bullying and peer pressure that is so often a daily struggle in traditional school environments
  • You are able to create a more effective learning environment by teaching one-on-one
  • Your child’s natural talents and abilities can be nurtured
  • You are able to address important and personal issues with your children when you feel that they are ready


You may have to:

  • Spend 24 hours a day with your children which may not be ideal for you and your family
  • Validate home-schooling to friends and family who may not agree with your decision
  • Spend a greater deal of money on education than previously accustomed
  • Put in more effort to find friends with whom your children can share meaningful and quality friendships
  • Deal with arguments between siblings if you are home-schooling more than one of your children. Making time to home-school more than one learner may also be challenging if they are each in different grades and learn at a different pace.
  • Parent’s loss of income because he or she has to be home to fulfil the role of an educator

If you require further information or would like a home-school tutor to assist your child please get in touch!