Header Ads

Learning: One size will not fit all

It is wrong to label learning disability as a sign of mental retardation: Experts

With the right kind of remedial intervention, learning disability need not always be an impediment to an individual’s personal growth or success, experts said at a seminar here on Tuesday.

Organised by city-based psychologist Manasi Uday, in collaboration with the National Service Scheme (NSS) unit of National College, the one-day gathering had Harini Mohan, Head, Awareness, Madras Dyslexia Association, and S. Anand Kumar, psychiatrist, Ramakrishna Medical Centre, Woraiyur, as resource speakers.

The event, held at National College, was open to teachers and rehabilitation science students based in and around Tiruchi.

The low level of acceptance of learning disability among teachers and parents aided by a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to education has led to many children getting socially isolated even though they may be gifted with above-average intelligence.

“This problem becomes evident more towards the end of the school year, when parents get their children assessed over their poor performance in class,” said Ms. Uday. “Remedial teaching, which paces out the lesson’s concepts according to the child’s mental capacity, can help him or her to return to mainstream education within a few months. This has to be conveyed to a bigger audience.”

The issue has gained greater credence after the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 passed by the Central Government included specific learning disability as one of the 21 new health conditions on its list for the very first time.

In his inaugural address, Dr. Anand Kumar said learning disability was nothing to be ashamed about. “Many people who are prominent in their chosen field today have overcome some kind of learning disability in their life because they refused to be discouraged by their clinical diagnosis,” he pointed out. “It is wrong to label learning disability as a sign of mental retardation, because the intelligence quotient (IQ) of these children is otherwise above average.”

In the three-hour morning session for teachers and students, Ms. Mohan briefed the audience about how to spot students with learning disability in class and on the potential methods of intervention.

“Very often those who don’t do well in their studies are pushed to the back of the class. It is important for educators to differentiate between the simply playful average student and one who cannot understand the lessons at all,” she said.

The seminar concluded with a session by Dr. Anand Kumar, who spoke on the medical aspects of learning disability. C. Samuel Chelliah, Regional Director, NSS, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, was the chief guest.

Widespread in India

Learning disability is quite widespread among school-going children in India, according to Harini Mohan, Head-Awareness, Madras Dyslexia Association. “Nearly 10-17% of children have some form of learning disability. The degree might vary, but they all need help. They have a lot of potential, but it goes untapped,” she told The Hindu.

In the field for 17 years, Ms. Mohan said these gifted children found it difficult to cope in class due to certain neural problems that affected their understanding of school subjects.

“If the child does not understand the way we teach, we need to change the way they learn. We can’t ask them to change, because that’s how they are. Once the teaching community and parents change their approach, these children are going to blossom beautifully in life,” she said.

Responding to criticism that the Indian school system that did not cater to slow learners, Ms. Mohan said changing the methodology of teaching would be a more achievable target than altering the existing educational set-up.

“I am sure each and every teacher and parent can definitely work towards that. I won’t blame the system because I’ve seen so many children circumvent their learning problems with remedial teaching,” she said.

Problems like dyslexia often get masked in a multilingual society like India where the language of learning differs from that used at home and in social interaction.


No comments

Powered by Blogger.