Saturday, 23 January 2016

Instrument Enrichment Program
It happened on a Thursday evening, nearly ten years Ago. Varun’s remedial class had just got over. We were working on page 3 of the instrument Comparisons. His mother requested to have a word with me.

Varun was around 12 years at that time, studying in class VII in a main stream school. He had been attending one to one remedial classes with me for nearly two years then. We had addressed his issues of reading, spelling, math & comprehension and the improvement was very gradual. His exam performances were inconsistent, sometimes he could score up to 80% and sometimes he would score single digit marks. Varun’s school refused to understand his issues of attention & learning though both his parents were extremely cooperative and willing to do anything within their means.
I gave Varun a jigsaw puzzle to keep him busy and called his mother. After prolonged hesitation & discomfort, varun’s mother finally came to the point. She expressed her view that I should not be spending so much class time on teaching thinking skills, but focus more on academic areas, especially since his marks were inconsistent. The school was complaining a lot and threatening to detain him. I listened patiently and tried to explain the philosophy behind the IE program. Teaching thinking skills was an integral part of the remedial program and the results can be perceived only after a long period of time. I tried to convince the parent that we needed to bring about a qualitative change in the child and equip him with adequate cognitive skills to make him an independent learner& a holistic individual. (of course), out of great respect for me and the fact that varun was attached to me, his mother reluctantly gave in. Varun & I worked on several instruments of the IE program for almost two years along with study skills and other academic areas. Out of three classes per week, one class was allotted to IE program.

Today Varun is a marketing professional in the financial services industry. He appeared a s a private candidate in 10th & 12th and scored above 80%. He obtained an MBA from a reputed college and secured a job immediately. He has very good communication skills, is very organized and mature for his age. He is well aware of his strengths & weaknesses and never hesitates to acknowledge his need to seek guidance / support. He is able to prioritize his goals and has good decision making skills.
Varun never fails to wish me on Teacher’s day. But my biggest reward came on the day his mother called and thanked me for teaching him thinking skills. She saw great value in the IE program as she witnessed so many youngsters (many of them Varun’s friends) lost and confused & having several problems mainly because they lacked clarity in thinking
Remedial intervention is rather incomplete if thinking and reasoning skills are not included in the program. The IE program teaches the child critical thinking skills through paper pencil activities. The methodology is called ‘Mediated Learning Experience’ or ‘bridging’ of specific thinking skills at three levels of input, processing & output. Skills like planning, systematic thinking, problem definition, hypothesizing, empathizing, information gathering, problem solving, comparing/categorizing etc. are taught.

Dyslexics have significant difficulties in information processing skills and restraining impulsivity. So teaching them specific thinking skills and how & when to apply them should be made an integral part of the remedial program.

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