Education and Differences

Many things make me a different sort of person.

I’m dyslexic. Yet because my mother taught me to read, write and count, I made it to the top of my class. Many students are “different” like me.

By Raymond Viger

How should the educational world react vis-à-vis all these differences? How can you manage them so that they allow you to flourish rather than wither?

There are several ways to learn. School is there to educate our kids, to give them the tools to adapt to these differences. We have to be confident that teachers use their educational methods to get that to happen. When the ministry of education tries to impose its norms and standards on everyone, we end up with a generation of youth in a perpetual state of failure.

Some young people are very good with their hands. Building a house, repairing it, and maintaining it is no problem for them. But writing a sentence in good English or French is an arduous experience.

There are young people who can find work adapted to who they are. But instead of encouraging and accepting what makes them different we try to educate them… like everyone else… with unique methods. These kids end up in the remedial class.

Many of these students end up dropping out. They have no diploma or trade to fall back on. And yet, if they’d been given the opportunity to find something that catches their fancy, they could have become productive citizens.

And it’s all because the education ministry requires a secondary 3 (grade 9) qualification to earn the “privilege” of learning a trade.  

For 5 years I taught Inuits in Quebec’s far north. It was up to me to see how they learned, and adapt to their learning styles.

The Inuit oral tradition is much stronger than is their written tradition. That’s why my teaching style was to present the material in an easily understandable and learnable manner without making them take notes.

And that’s how we could give them degrees in social work from McGill University.

First seen in: Reflet de Société, Vol. 25, no. 2, printemps (spring) 2017, page 4

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