Friday, August 31, 2012

Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities

I totally agreed with Scott Hamilton when he said that the only disability in life is a wrong attitude. I strongly believe that disability is not a curse or punishment from God for some wrongdoings. No, I feel these people can live a normal life just like any normal person. In fact, people with disabilities are more determined to overcome this barrier and do not want to gain sympathy from people. I remember watching a video clip of a differently abled person who didn't have hands but was writing with the pen held in his mouth. These people really inspire us to work harder and convert the weaknesses into strengths.

While choosing a college there are certain points which a differently abled person should evaluate before applying to the desired college.

Easily accessible campus and 24x7 buses available with special needs.
Offices having full-time staff for answering the queries of differently abled persons.
Help available in form of attendants or nurses for people with severe disabilities.
Course curriculum and extra tutoring for those who lag behind in class.
Extra curricular activities designed for people with disabilities and coaching for these people who are capable of entering into paralympic Olympics.

After considering these factors the next step is choosing from the list of best colleges which have great programs for differently abled persons.

University of Arizona,Tucson

The Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques Center popularly known as SALT has been the oldest in rendering best programs for people suffering from ADHD and other learning disabilities. This institute offers world-class workshops with well equipped computer labs. The tutors in this program are well experienced and many hold doctorates in their respective fields. The tutors are CRLA (college reading and learning association) certified and render expert services in Maths, Science and other courses. The fee structure for undergraduate lower division and upper division varies from $1000 to $2500 per semester. The tutoring fees is extra $20-25 per hour.

Wayne State University, Detroit

This University located at Detroit offers best facilities in off campus programs, pre - enrollment counseling, ASL interpretors and volunteer note takers. The average tuition fee for undergraduate lower and upper division ranges from $450 to $6000. Known programs like business administration and fine arts are rendered through the campus. The institute also offers excellent placement opportunities and has efficient staff in tutoring and career counseling.

University of Connecticut, Storrs

One of the top ranked public university this institute offers world-class program B.O.L.D (Building Opportunities for students with Learning Disabilities). This program is specifically designed for psychiatric, ADHD and LD disabled students. Through this program students are encouraged to improve their skills in order to gain employment. The average tuition fees for first semester is $1600 and for rest of semesters it is around $1100. The tutoring fees are extra $45 to $51 for a course. The college also provides SEAD program specially designed for autistic students. Through this program the student is encouraged to make transition to college level courses and instill positive attitude among students to achieve their goals.

Curry College, Massachusetts

Located in Milton, a 135 acre campus which is seven miles from Boston offers a suburban setting. The course is designed for students suffering from learning disabilities. The tutors prepare students to participate in group level discussions and provides $10,000 worth of scholarship to a high school senior student who has been successful in overcoming the disability barrier. The average tuition fees for first year per semester is approximately $3300. The curriculum includes using strategies to develop the thinking, reading, writing and listening abilities in students.

Augsburg College, Minneapolis

The CLASS (Center for learning and adaptive student services) provides normal classes and also helps the students by assisting them with scanned exams,extended time exams and recorded textbooks. Assistive technology caters to the students' needs and the tutors encourage students to excel in their field with working on the underlying weaknesses. The tuition fees are nominal and students are accepted with a grade point average of 2.6. The institute has full-time staff assisting students with disabilities to learn. Individual tutoring is being promoted by the CLASS program.

University of Iowa, Iowa City

This university offers two year program for students suffering from multiple cognitive disabilities. The program termed as REACH (realizing educational and career hopes) helps students to be independent and educate them to fulfill their future dreams. It has community based internships, accessible campus and prepare students for employment. The average tuition fees for one year is approximately $14,100 and need based scholarships are available to the students.

Florida State University, Tallahassee

The Student Disability Resource Center has programs designed for ADHD students. It also helps these students' transition to college level courses and provides services such as extra exam time, specially designed Math and Reading programs.

Beacon College, Florida

The courses are specially offered for learning disabilities, gifted LD and ADHD students. The average tuition fee for a year is around $14,500 and it also offers full student support in form of extra curricular activities. It also has Travel Abroad Program where students can experience rich cultural diversity.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Special Schooling

In the past centuries, school was not available for everybody. School was a luxury only few could afford, not necessarily because it was expensive but because it was selective. Minorities were not aloud to go to school, nor did women in some places, or peasants in others and in some places not even people belonging to a certain race, such as the Afro-American people. School was only for royal descendants or for the high class.

The contrary is what happens today. Almost everyone willing can go to school and moreover, there are also special schools, such as schools for blind people, schools for minorities, schools for girls or schools for boys. Is this way of specializing schools efficient? It may be for some categories, but it surely isn't for other.

In the first place, schools for moderate special needs children have proven their inefficiency. They seem not to stimulate enough the cognitive resources of the children and in addition they don't contribute to the socio-emotional development of these children. Being in a special school puts a permanent stigma on them and they also fail to integrate those children in the community later on. Of course, such schools are needed for severely affected children who represent a menace to other children or who are too impaired to be solely under the supervision of non-psychiatric or physical specialists. But in these schools one can find also children which have less serious impairments or problems. These are those who have physical disabilities, learning disabilities, ADHD, the Asperger syndrome or other mental impairments which the psychologists consider to be light and under control.

Nowadays, some countries work on integrating these children in normal schools. They do it because in normal schools these children have the opportunity to have a healthy emotional and social development, and also they are stimulated to develop they intellectual potential. Specialized persons, such as psychologists, are focused on informing the parents, the teachers and also the "normal" students about these mental issues, about their characteristics, trying in the same time to demolish the stigma laid upon these children. There are courses meant to prepare and train the teachers to deal with such children in order to offer them the biggest chance for cognitive, emotional and social development. In some schools, the governments hired specialized people to work together with the teachers for the optimization of their activity. Research has shown this is a more effective procedure than the one offered by special schools.

Secondly, schools which gather only the genius have also proven to be less efficient than schools who maintain a balance. The first category may lead to the development of a more than sufficient competitive spirit, but also the lack of diversity of friends, the lack of choices. The solution, of course, is not treating the prodigious children as "normal" children, because by doing that they may not come to develop their full intellectual potential, and they may quit school because they can become bored of the simplicity of the things they are taught. The solution is to socially integrate them in the classroom and then offer them harder and more complex exercises that the others are offered, and double the speed by which they are supposed to finish their tasks. By this, they will remain interested; they will develop their cognitive resources and also will have the social variety encountered in everyday life.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Equality In Education For All

I began my teaching career in 1985 in what was then an Inner London College. South Thames College in Putney was a college which was keen to maintain its high literacy and numeracy standards, and worked closely with local schools to improve its 14-16 provision. My role as the newly appointed School Link Tutor was to ensure, in consultation with the Senior School Link Co-ordinator, that the curriculum reflected the diverse needs of the young people who attended the college twice weekly. The course had been designed to accommodate those who did not have academic aspirations, and as such vocational tasters comprised fifty per cent of the programme. The students were from two schools, one an all girls school and the other an all boys school. These students, who were only fifteen years of age were already deemed as less likely to achieve good academic grades. One of the main aims and objectives of the course was to encourage the students not to simply drop out of the educational system, but to realise that educational opportunities were available to all.

The course offered vocational tasters in keyboard skills and office practice, (today it would be classed as ICT) cookery, painting and decorating, motor vehicle and basic skills in English, Maths and Personal Development. The vocational tasters operated on a carousel basis for the duration of six weeks. In addition there were two weeks of work experience built into the course. The three days spent at school enabled an opportunity for a more in-depth study of traditional curriculum subjects such as geography, history, science and RE. The students were challenging and some had behavioural difficulties. However, because they were in a new environment and had not as yet been labelled by the institution as underachievers, some of the students began to show a great deal of promise, and were once again engaged in the learning process.

I have worked with disaffected young people throughout my teaching career, either those disinterested in the traditional curriculum or those who were uninterested in learning about English Literature, and were in the classroom through no choice of their own. I learned how to make the teaching of Shakespeare and other traditional literary works more relevant to the student's everyday experience, and so involved the student's in the learning process. I also persevered with these challenging students through a variety of other strategies. One such strategy was to encourage students not to simply accept what they were being told but to check the information for themselves. In today's technological world it's easy enough to find information. Therefore as part of the learning experience, when you are writing up your notes you should make additional comments by researching the subject matter in more depth. Additionally do not simply accept things as being the truth; but check their validity. Does it make sense? Discuss it with other students and your teacher. Most of all take responsibility for your own learning and understanding of the topic.

Differences in Gender Learning

The philosophy and politics inherent within teaching changes fairly regularly, but a firm foundation on which to base one's teaching can be found through religious scripture as well as from an understanding of pedagogical techniques. From a scriptural perspective I ensure that God is at the centre of my life and is the foundation on which I assess and re-assess my moral and ethical values. I believe that most teachers show their students acts of kindness and ensure that they know they are valued and respected within the classroom. Arguably those who place Jesus Christ at the centre of their lives also ensure that their students understand God's purpose in our lives.

The pedagogy of teaching is more concerned with the practicalities of teaching, for instance effective learning resources and tools, ensuring the students are involved in the learning process, as well as regular assessments and evaluations of the students' knowledge and understanding. As educators there are a whole host of factors which need to be taken into consideration to equip our young people with the skills, knowledge and experience required to make them effective members of society. One important consideration is that there is a difference in the way boys and girls learn. Exponents of this argument would suggest that girls often develop good interpersonal skills and are keen to communicate and interact with their peers. They see learning as a way of impressing their peers and many value education as a focal point in their lives.

On the other hand boys tend to act out in order to impress their peers rather than show that they are intelligent and quite competent learners. This macho image is often quite negative and the behaviours associated with it, could lead the young man to be excluded from school. For instance, I am aware of a male student who some years ago needed to bond with other males in the group. However, the ways in which this manifested itself was very negative and included 'shaping up' to the male teachers. His 'laddish' behaviour became anti-social and he began to cross school boundaries. The inevitable happened, and had it not been for the pastoral support plan which was put in place through negotiation with the Head teacher of the school, the Head of the school year, his parents and the school counsellor, this particular young person would have been permanently excluded from school. Fortunately this did not happen and he was re-integrated back into the classroom, and was closely supervised by all concerned.

Proponents of the argument that boys and girls are not only socialised differently, but also compete in differing ways in school would further argue that boys need to take part in these 'rites of passage', however in so doing it may mean challenging the establishment and this in turn could lead to being permanently excluded from the educational system. If this were to happen it may damage their prospective academic achievements and future career prospects. Girls on the other hand tend to be socialised to interact and be supportive of each other. Most girls tend to talk, listen and share emotions, ideas and knowledge with each other, and while they too challenge authority figures it is often in a less confrontational manner. Arguably, girls are less likely to experience long term exclusion from school; and the continuity within their education may ensure they get better qualifications and eventually good jobs.