The Special Needs Student
Do you think that a special school should be built in each Ward of the country for The Special Needs Student? Or should each school be outfitted with facilities for The Special Needs Student and run the risk of their special needs being drowned out with the demands of the rest of the school?
What amazes me, is that we the educated public, year after year listen to this political rubbish from ministers such as Hazel Manning, and accept it as truth. We have always know that there is correlation between literacy and behaviour. It has to do with a person's perception of his or her worth based on whether he or she can 'fit in' with his/her peers. The most destructive feeling one can have is 'no hope.' These so called trouble makers in the school system are by and large victims of hopelessness. They don't believe they can do better and the education system has encouraged this feeling. Even if they wanted to do better, they don't know where to begin. I teach in a school that has been a victim of political relay. The pupils , parents and teachers were all persuaded that this school would cater to the needs of these 'special' children who were either 'trouble makers', 'slow', 'tardy' or 'irregular' or whatever other problem you think of under the son, and failed at the primary school level. With out any attempt to 'help' them find their way through the maze, they were sent off from the Primary School into this Special Secondary School, which succeeded in driving them further into a prism of hopelessness, because no one bothered to DIAGNOSE... their problem, and no one bothered to train , I mean really TRAIN the teachers how to teach these pupils. Rather, these teachers come straight out of university,secondary school, or out of retirement, and further frustrate the already frustrated pupils, with their myopic demands and outdated resources. Even where technology entered the school, many teachers did not have access to it , or did not know how to use it....My GOD...they expect us to work miracles everyday.......but we do, we stay on in the face of adversity........
So my answer is yes, yes, yes...Lets have as many special school as we need. If we cannot have many special schools, then lets have the trained personnel and resources on staff. Lets have smaller class sizes. Lets have more Guidance officers (rather than frustrating the few available),School psychologists, Parent intervention and humane and trained principals and lets handpick the staff .........whatever it takes....lets cut de ole talk and do it.....insist on it.....
Growing up in Trinidad - I feel that most people do not believe that a child has special needs when it comes to learning. They are just considered stubborn or lazy. Not to say that in America it is much different but at least there are ways to fight the system. My son has a learning disability, you would never tell, and it did not help with the introduction of sight reading instead of phonics. I had to fight the system in order for him to be coded. All through elementary and middle school he was accomodated and given extra help. In High School all the accomodations were taken away and he just could not cope. I had to get outside help to guide him through to make it through High School. But it was an on going battle. Thankfully he was willing to learn and did not give up.
I can image in Trinidad it would be more difficult. Special needs comes in all levels and a special school will make it worst, emotionally. The work load is unbelievable for a gifted child. Most children start evening classes a year before CXC exams. A child with special needs is going to be left behind.
I agreed with Citizen, people need to be aware that there are children that need special needs and should be accomodated. Teachers should be trained to deal with these needs. However the rigid school system with its caribbean wide exams needs to be relooked at as a measuring tool.
I definitely think we need to adjust our school curriculum. The children who succeed at our Special School are those who are actively engaged in pursuits they enjoy or have a chance at mastering. These are usually in the area of creative arts, or other vocational or practical areas. They also gravitate towards teachers who present their humaness and show apreciation for the human being behind the troubled child. I often feel we discard students based on the problematic symptoms they present, rather than reading further into what these symptoms mean. Often, as we know, it is a cry for help. We don't want to wait until we have a massacre on our hands as it was in Virginia, so help us GOd. Put aside the syllabus for a moment and look at the child....I think teachers, as well as parents, are afraid to find out what their pupils really feel. We take it too personally at times....GOD HELP US ALL....
I had laughed at the American Schooling System saying that it was too easy. But it reaches all levels of students and the opportunities to continue at any age is amazing.
Unlike T&T if you don't do very well on your CXC then you are in for a long struggle. I often wonder how a student going to school for half a day (junior/Senior Sec) will absorb all that is needed and more. I think that they are cheated of all the extra activities that is involve with growing up and learning about yourself - ie - sports, music, drama club etc
Many of my friends that graduated High School with me - went into teaching - and they all complain how badly the students behave and sometimes they do not know what to do.
We all forget that people are different and we have to learn how to reach persons with different personalities.
Dealing with the questions originally posed by Rasta I will like to see a school dedicated to special needs children where 'normal' students are also brought in on occasion to learn and interact. The reason I think it should be done this way is because of some key factors:
1. The ability to set the PROPER environment for the special needs children
2. The ability to choose responsible 'normal' students to participate to eliminate bullying
3. The ability to control the kind of teachers and therapists that work in the school
When you put a special needs child in the regular school system you put them among Trinis who use the laid back or even don't care approach. Let's not fool ourselves into thinking that the teachers in general within T&T can deal with rowdy students AND special needs children at the same time.
Title: Self Regulation, "the Invisible Disability"
Comments: It is really a challenge as a parent when your child has special needs that are not externally visible to the eyes of the onlooker. Teacher especially, when they are uninformed or refuses to become informed it is quite difficult for a child especially for a five years old. It is terrible to know that these professionals, if some are deserving of that title, have to be role model to our children with special need. Not to mention the strain of a parent to have to always justify their child's interactions, it can be quite emotionally tearing.