deschooling, Education and Language Instruction, Education and the Family, Literacy, Schools

The Importance of Recognizing Student Difference

Last night I watched the film, Shine Like a Star on YouTube.  The setting for the film was in India; in some Indian schools, with class sizes of 40 plus students. The main character was an eight-year-old boy called Ishan.  Ishan was portrayed as having dyslexia, and because he could not read and write, and didn’t have fine and gross motor coordination, he experienced bullying from teachers and fellow students, and rejection by his family.

The theme of the movie was individual difference in students.  With the right kind of support, and feeding of passion, all students are able to be an expert in something.

In the movie, Ishan’s solution was found in the context of school.  However, for me, the film highlighted the harmfulness of schools and schooling – just like in a school of fish, the individual is expected to be the same as every other member of the collective.  However, egalitarianism is a myth.  None of us are the same.  Everyone is unique and created for a different purpose, and the uniqueness requires difference in educational input.  Home-based education would have been a much better solution for the young lad’s situation.

Another issue was the child’s need for a multi-sensory / multi-modal approach to literacy and numeracy.  It was a great advertisement for intensive phonics methods of literacy instruction.

I would thoroughly recommend the watching of the movie.  You have to persevere through some Bollywood-like scenes (it is an Indian movie, when all said and done), but the perseverance is worth it.

References:

Aamir Khan Productions / PVR Pictures. (2013). Verry Inspiring Movie (Shine Like a Star). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22xmvxGtx4o

 

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Aboriginal Education, Education and Language Instruction

Language teaching and home-based education

An important Bible verse that has influenced my thinking about education is found in the Book of Esther.  I wrote it in my journal on Monday 26th December, 1983.  The verse says:

“… every man should be the master of his own house, and the one who speaks in the language of his own people” (Esther 1:22).

I think of places like Fiji, and the nation, after colonization, was encouraged to keep their native language strong.  This means that in Fiji, children are educated in Fijian, but also are educated in English so that the Fijian nation can maintain communication with the rest of the western world.

However, in Australia, there is a perennial resistance to the teaching of traditional Aboriginal languages in our schools.  Very few mainstream schools teach an Aboriginal language as an elective – I do know of a Christian school in Victoria that teaches the Warlpiri language.  And the attempts to teach Aboriginal languages in Northern Territory schools have been repeatedly sabotaged.

I have developed a colour-coded phonics program for the teaching of Warlpiri literacy.  When I trialled the system, the anecdotal evidence was that it made the teaching of the language in a formal setting a lot easier.  However, my efforts were resisted, and eventually all the resources that I developed were thrown out of the school.

It remains my burning conviction that every man should be the master of his own house, and that his children should be educated in the language of his own people.  Language diversity was originally a curse, but the curse can be turned around and made a blessing in Christ Jesus.

Every language has the capacity to preserve knowledge sets that are just not as easily preserved in other languages.   With the loss of languages around the world, there is a corresponding loss of important knowledge and data.

This is where home-based education is important, and marketplace diversity in the sourcing of educational resources is critical.  Such educational liberty does not necessarily make any multinational companies meg-rich, financially, but it does make a community profoundly rich culturally.

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