A private tutor is a teacher who is hired by a family to teach to only one pupil or to a small group of children or youth. Less commonly, adults may get private tutoring in a topic such as foreign languages.
There are mainly two types:
- Private teacher: These teachers are charged to assure the entire education of their pupils. The reasons why a family would want to hire such teacher are various: The story could take place when and/or where schools weren't so widespread or the pupil(s) is/are in need of supervision because of health, security or behavior, or could be Child Prodigy/ies.
- Academic coach: Academic coaches supplement the education of struggling students or give supplemental courses on a subject such as music or art. They can be hired by an Education Mama.
If tutor and tutee are sufficiently major characters, and post-pubescent, nine times out of ten this will end in a Teacher/Student Romance. Music tutors are most susceptible to this, likely because music stirs the passions of the heart.
This is a quite modern trope. Regular schools for children didn't start to appear until the medieval age, and then only in larger cities. Up through the entire 19th century, working as a governess was a quite common and respectable job for single women. As such, most examples before then would be a case of People Sit on Chairs since private tutors were the main source of education.
The Private Teacher
- Bleach. A century before the story begins, the adolescent Byakuya was privately tutored by Yoruichi to improve his shunpou. It's implied that she was also teaching him to rein in his Hair-Trigger Temper and learn how to relax.
- I'm a Royal Tutor in My Sister's Dress features...well, guess.. To clarify: Sherlock Doyle replaces his disappeared sister Glinda as the math teacher for the royal children so that both don't get executed.
- The Royal Tutor is about a (notably short) tutor to four princes.
- In Secret of Cerulean Sand, Chambellan is this to Jane Buxton and follows her from England to Neo City in her quest to find her older brother's grave in the Middle East, where he died, shot for treason, except he was not really dead but serving as a Reluctant Mad Scientist for his insane half-brother.
- A Brief History of Histories: Usagi has gone through a series of tutors. Ami also works as a tutor in order to help support herself.
- The second Holiday Special of Pokémon Reset Bloodlines reveals that the character Vedia was homeschooled by private tutors, since her rich parents were too busy to spend time with her.
- In Crooked House, Laurence Brown is the private tutor for the Leonides children, Eustace and Josephine. He is also having an affair with Aristide Leonides' second wife, Brenda.
- The Prince and the Pauper introduces the prince receiving instruction on Trigonometry from the chamberlain, who seems to handle the prince's education as well, and bored out of his mind. The prince begins to amuse himself by tormenting Donald Duck.
- In silent film The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg, Karl Heinrich, the crown prince of a little Ruritania-style German principality, receives a Private Teacher type of tutor, Dr. Juttner. Dr. Juttner proceeds to become the little boy's only friend.
- In Disney's The Sword in the Stone, Merlin acts as a tutor to Arthur.
- In The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Ralf hires a private tutor for his children to brainwash them with Nazi ideals.
- In A Brother's Price, the schoolteacher of Jerin's sisters occasionally came to the family's house to act as this for Jerin and his younger brother, who would be in danger of kidnapping outside the house.
- Jane Eyre is hired by Rochester to teach Adele.
- In Little Women Laurie's private tutor is John Brooke. He doesn't have a romance with his student, but rather with one of the Little Women who live next door.
- One of the little women themselves, Meg, works as a governess for the wealthy King family.
- Having a private tutor instead of going to school and learning to be around other kids is given in the Malory Towers books as a partial explanation for why Gwen is such a Valley Girl.
- In Prince Caspian, Caspian is given a tutor by his Uncle Miraz. He's hired to replace his nurse, after Miraz finds out that she's been telling him banned stories about Old Narnia. This backfires on Miraz: the tutor turns out to be an Old Narnian himself living in secret. He teaches Caspian more about the subject than his nurse ever did, not to mention saving Caspian's life when Miraz later tries to have him killed.*
- In Pyramids, before he enrolled in the Assassins' Guild school, Teppic had a string of tutors, most of whom got freaked out by his father's occasional belief he was a seagull and fled, one of whom was actually a poacher who taught him how to use a puntbow and another of whom "tried to introduce him to certain athletic techniques favoured by the classical Pseudopolitans". The net result was that "Teppic hadn't been educated. Education had just settled on him, like dandruff."
- The Reynard Cycle: Young King Lionel is tutored (along with his sister) by a Mandrossian scholar named Alberich.
- In Viper In the Fist, the Rezeau family hire several of those to teach to their three sons in their familian home.
- Jowan, from the Magi Origin of Dragon Age: Origins, serves as one to Connor Guerrin, whose mother won't let him be taken to the Circle and instead opts to have him learn just enough magic to conceal his talents. This backfires when Jowan poisons Connor's father on his employer's orders and leads to Connor being possessed by a demon and amassing an undead army.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Link was personally instructed in swordsmanship by Rusell, who even gives him his wooden practice sword near the beginning of the game.
- In Nancy Drew: The Curse of Blackmoor Manor, Ethel is employed to teach Jane such varied subjects as art, French, and science. And, of course, the Penvellyns' secret history. Apparently, Ethel's family have often served the Penvellyns in this capacity, just to ensure that their treasure will never be forgotten. It doesn't hurt that the Penvellyn manor is very isolated.
- In Stardew Valley, Penny is the private tutor of Vincent and Jas since Pelican Town has no schoolhouse with no other teacher around the town.
- World of Warcraft. One questline in Duskwood involves unraveling the mystery about Stalvan Mistmantle, a former schoolmaster hired as a tutor by a wealthy family for their two children. As he instructs them, he becomes infatuated with Tilloa, the beautiful elder daughter, until she appears one day with a suitor, which leads to tragic results.
- Stand Still, Stay Silent: Such people educated Emil, the resident Know-Nothing Know-It-All. Mikkel's comment about his educational records is that one is better off disregarding any wisdom he shares. Tuuri is also more knowledgeable than him, despite being publicly educated in the nation that is considered the least advanced of the world and filled with "not very bright" people.
- Conservapedia was originally conceived by Andrew Schlafly for homeschooled children.
- The Baby Huey cartoon "Pest Pupil" has Huey getting kicked out of school, forcing his mother to hire a tutor.
- The Simpsons. In "The PTA Disbands", when the teachers of Springfield Elementary go on strike, all the kids treat it as an extra vacation from school - but Milhouse's parents get him a tutor in order to bridge the gap.
- Aristotle was the tutor of Alexander the Great.
- Peter Abelard was this to Heloise, and it led him to be castrated by her father after she ended up pregnant from the Teacher/Student Romance.
- The examples from the musicals The King and I and The Sound of Music are both Truth in Television, as both musicals are Very Loosely Based On A True Story. Both expand their heroines' teaching roles, however: the real Anna wasn't the royal children's only schoolteacher, but just their teacher of English, and the real Maria wasn't a governess to all the Von Trapp children, but only to daughter Maria Franziska (Louisa in the musical), who was too weak from scarlet fever to attend school with her siblings.
The Academic Coach:
- In a filler episode of Dragon Ball Z, the tutor Mr. Shu is hired to teach Gohan all that he missed while he [Gohan] was away on Namek. Seems innocent enough at first, but then behind closed doors, Mr. Shue is a whip-cracking madman. He feigns innocence whenever Chi-Chi's near, but then she catches him blaming Gohan's "disobedience" on Goku being a worthless father. She kicks his ass immediately.
- Haruhi Suzumiya:
- Haruhi tutors a number of kids from her neighborhood, including one who will end up inventing time travel.
- In Disassociation, Haruhi starts tutoring Kyon out of the blue with no explanation. It takes him a while to figure out that she's trying to get his grades up so that he can go to the same college as her. In Surprise, when Kyon ends up a few years in the future for a moment, it's implied this plan worked.
- High School D×D: In one of the specials, Rossweisse is shown giving remedial classes to Issei in private, since he's the only member of the Occult Research Club in danger of flunking out. Hilarity Ensues when she starts freaking out over him trying to do pervert stuff on her and getting distracted, and ironically ends up embarrassing herself due to her own overreactions.
- The Quintessential Quintuplets: Male lead Fuutarou Uesugi is hired to tutor the Nakano quintuplets after they transfer to his school, a job he takes out of necessity since he's paid for each of them and he needs the money since his family is poor. Much of his early struggle comes from getting them to study in the first place.
- Rouge Noir features a mutual attraction between a piano tutor and her pupil.
- Persona EG: Twilight helps get Flash caught up while he is in the hospital after his Persona awakening knocked him out for 3 days.
- The aptly named Private Tutoring oneshot takes place in a Pokémon High-School A.U. where Ash and Misty attend the Kanto Pokémon Academy. When Ash is falling back in his classes and is in danger of losing his spot on the Pokéathlon team, Misty decides to step up and help him study for the extraordinaries.
- The Amazing Spider-Man: Gwen tutors Flash in the first movie, although in which subjects is not mentioned. She uses this to embarrass him enough to get him to stop bullying Peter.
"I hope you've been doing your homework. Last time I was very disappointed in you."
- Cruel Intentions, being an adaptation of Les Liaisons dangereuses (see below), involves a romance between a music tutor and his student.
- Lionel Logue in The King's Speech, teach diction to George VI so that he could speech without problem in radio to his people during the war.
- My Tutor: Bobby Chrystal must pass a French exam in order to get into Yale. His father hires a female tutor to teach him enough French to pass the exam. This results in a Teacher/Student Romance.
- Roberta Guaspari is, in Music of the Heart, a music tutor tasked with a violin program conducted for inner-city kids in Harlem.
- The cinematic series finale of Our Miss Brooks sees Miss Brooks tutor Gary Nolan, who's struggling in English. This move ends up setting much of the plot in motion, eventually leading to Miss Brooks' Happily Ever After.
- In Parasite (2019), this is how the Kims infiltrate the Park family. Ki-woo gets hired as a tutor for the Parks' teenage daughter, who is struggling academically, using faked college credentials, leading to a budding Teacher/Student Romance with her. He then sneaks his sister in as an art teacher/art therapist for the Parks' "emotionally disturbed" son, and they then use their influence to get the rest of the family hired in the Park household.
- The young protagonist of Searching for Bobby Fischer, a chess prodigy, naturally has a private chess tutor.
- In the novel Dangerous Liaisons (and the play, and the multiple films...), Cecile is in love with her music tutor, Danceny.
- The Reynard Cycle: Young King Lionel is taught how to dance by Precieuse. He is clearly smitten with her.
- The title character of Shirley falls in love with her cousin's private tutor.
- Syrio Forel in A Song of Ice and Fire teaches the Braavosi style to Arya Stark.
- One episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer has Principal Snyder forcing Willow to tutor a Jerk Jock so he doesn't fail all his classes. And by "tutor him", Snyder of course means "do all his schoolwork for him so he can focus on sports".
- The Body of the Week in one episode of Castle was hired as a private tutor for the son of a Triad boss, and was killed by his older brother when student and tutor fell in love.
- Syrio Forel in Game of Thrones teaches the Braavosi style swordsmanship to Arya Stark.
- Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks tutors Stretch Snodgrass to keep him eligible for athletics . . . not to mention, to keep him from flunking outright.
- One series of FoxTrot strips has Denise's family trying to hire Peter to tutor Denise in history. Denise is actually doing well in the class and has no need for a tutor, but convinced her parents otherwise so she could spend more time with Peter.
- In another strip, Jason was convinced he needed one because he wasn't breaking an A+++++ average. Andy sent Peter to tutor him on being less of a geek.
- In The BBC Radio 4 drama series Trust, about a struggling school that has recently joined an Academy Trust, the Trust's flagship school, Lodestone Academy, has a long list of students taking private tuition. The headmistress of the struggling school assumes that they're all doing so well they're taking advanced classes, but it turns out they're being tutored in basic maths and English, since the school maintains its position in the league tables by not teaching things the kids might fail at.
- In The Taming of the Shrew, Lucentio disguises himself as Bianca's tutor.
- In Persona 4, one of the odd jobs/Social Links (The Tower social link, to be exact) you can take is working as a tutor to Shu Nakajima, a younger student. If you stick with it, the student in question goes from an Insufferable Genius to talking things through with his Education Mama and being more social (in the epilogue, he reveal he made friends with The Rival he was complaining about).
- In Phantasy Star II, the musician Ustvestia teaches the characters the Musik technique. Being openly gay, he charges far less for boys than for gals, though the gay aspect was reduced to the halving the price thing.
- Coming Out on Top: Mark is hired as one for Brad, who is failing his literature class. He also teaches ESL kids, and can do so during the weekends for extra cash.
- Kim Possible: Señor Senior Senior hires Shego to give Junior lessons on how to be a proper villain.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has established in that Twilight Sparkle now is tutoring the CMC once a week.
- The Simpsons. In an episode Superintendent Chalmers takes Bart under his wing, giving him private lessons outside of school. Eventually all the bully characters start taking these lessons.