Enabling the Disabled

Introduction

The Village International Education Centre is a non-profit organisation committed to helping children and young adults acknowledge, understand and overcome their learning difficulties.

The school provides full time and part time programmes for students who have specific learning, language, motor and behavioural / emotional difficulties.
The faculty and staff of the school ensure complete flexibility in relation to teaching techniques, attendance (full time or part time) and the emotional requirements of each student. Their primary aim is to provide a caring environment so that all students can recognise and reach their true potential.

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My personal Experience

Having visited the school twice, I realize that the difference between teaching learners with significant learning difficulties and learners in mainstream schools is not huge. In fact, being exposed to many children with special needs reassures me of the commonness of our problems in learning.

The requirements of learners are universal. Every learner needs a challenging, engaging, and stimulating learning experience (provided by a caring, understanding, passionate, and patient teacher who works hard at creating an environment in which support is communicated and felt). The principles of learning apply similarly to all individuals and conditions.

Often, what we see and perceive as a ‘disability’ is actually an enabler, and not a disabler for an individual. This is especially true when an appropriate assistance is planned and provided to facilitate meaningful learning experiences for a child. This holds true to children in the mainstream school system as well. Sadly, most children in the mainstream system do not have the type of stimulation, challenges, and engagement in learning as they would wish to have.

In the end, thousands of children in mainstream schools suffer from a more severe disability which I call, the zero-affect-learning syndrome. These children perform poorly in academic tasks not because they possess actual problems in learning. Rather, their problems in learning reflect the kind of environment provided for their learning of school subjects.

When children are expected to learn in unfriendly, hostile, unchallenging, least stimulating, boring, and uncaring (‘inaffective’) environments, they manifest the zero-affect-learning syndrome. If only schools would treat every child as one needing specialized attention and intervention/support, we would see a more positive trend in learning itself.

In my opinion, when it comes to learning…EVERY INDIVIDUAL MUST BE CONSIDERED AS A CHILD WITH SPECIAL NEEDS.

Important points to remember

  1. involve as many sensory experiences as possible when teaching (any subject)
  2. prompts (hints, cues) are useful in scaffolding and supporting learners to move forward in learning
  3. minimizing distractions is the duty of the teacher! Don’t expect learners to be attentive if the environment does not allow them to do so!
  4. it is extremely important to remember that humans, whether old or young, infant or adult, learn the same way (quality and quantity of learning differ, but the processes remain the same). So, the best thing to do is to work with a learner’s personality and identify ways in which he/she learns the best and cater to this need
  5. know how the brain ‘learns’ (read my previous article)
  6. in order to work well with a learner, you must first and foremost find out what he/she is thinking. this is not an easy thing to do…but it is essential. It is good to let the learner know that you are interested in finding out what he/she is thinking so that you can eventually build on those thoughts
  7. whatever teaching aid you use…they only assist the learner in the learning process (supplement the learning process). you (the teacher) are still the most important and the only effective mediator between the child’s thoughts, his environment, and his experiences. So, don’t expect gadgets and techniques to do the job for you…YOU do it with the child
  8. help each child to get through the day! in the end, it doesn’t matter how much one has learned. what’s more important is how well he/she has lived through the day
  9. uproot the feeling of insecurity and inadequacy from the child (this is done by helping the child gain mastery over academic and non-academic tasks and celebrating his/her successes)
  10. children do not have problems…they have needs! Learners have learning needs!
  11. have faith in learners and communicate this faith as frequently as possible
  12. be creative and use a variety of approaches to help a learner – learning is not a fixed process – it is as fluid as water and so, it requires different molds to fit in
  13. be enthusiastic, energetic, and lively. if you are not zestful about what you teach…don’t expect learners to be so
  14. every noticeable changes and improvement must be acknowledged and rewarded
  15. CARE CARE CARE for the learner – positive emotion leads to positive learning experience

1 thought on “Enabling the Disabled”

  1. It’s amazing experience to have the opportunity to vist this school. I learned so many things from those teachers, students and stuffs. When we observe those children how they have trained to know the way of coming school, learn to write and playsports. Those things such eay for normal children, but it can bel be difficult for a child with coordination difficulties. How to Help a Clumsy Child is a practical resource manual for parents and professionals. Thanks Dr. Roy gave the chance for offering sensible advice on how to recognize normal and abnormal motor development, how to seek help and specific teaching strategies to help a clumsy child in the classroom, playground and home. I just wish we could have more chances to help people like these.

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