Different countries have different educational systems for people with learning difficulties. The ability to learn varies from person to person and this often requires an individualised learning approach. As more adults with learning difficulties access adult education, this may present a challenge to the teacher.
You are teaching computing within basic adult education. You are about to start a new group and you know there is a student, Martin, whose early education was in a school for people with learning difficulties. His main interest is computers and he is a self-taught young man. His goal is to work with computers in some way. You realise very soon that Martin is a smart student and that he knows everything when it comes to the technical functioning of the computer. He is really outstanding in this area. The problem is he may not be able to reach the goals of the course.
He can't read the instructions but needs to have them presented orally. He has difficulties thinking logically and his short-term memory is not very good.
- Would you allocate any time for Martin's personalized teaching / individualized training?
- Would you opt for it before, during or after each computer lesson?
- Would you support Martin's co-operation with his classmates?
- How would you define the goals to be attained as far as Martin is concerned? (educational goals, acquisition of social skills etc.)
Eva is 32 years old. She is tired of her work as a shop assistant and she would like be a nurse but she does not have the grades for the necessary further studies.
Eva has had difficulties with maths during her whole time at school. She felt totally worthless and eventually she had a complete block and could not get on with the subject. It says in her leaving-certificate: "failed". Eva passed the rest of the subjects with distinction.
You are a maths teacher at a school for adults. Eva comes to your class and after your first session she stays behind to talk to you. She tells you that she is totally useless at maths and that she has never been able to manage anything that has to do with maths. She almost wants to excuse herself for being such a stupid student.
- Can you think about ways to give Eva confidence in her ability?
- Have you thought about asking her about basic maths skills that she probably uses daily without realising, e.g., calculations in shops, discounts, personal budgeting, etc.?
- Can you think of ways of divorcing maths as a school subject from practical maths skills which she may be more comfortable with?
- Have you any fun practical exercises which might be easy to give her confidence a boost?
- Can you talk to her about the difficulties people have with maths and discuss how it is pretty common but that it is possible to get over the 'block'?
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