Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Literacy Tutor

When I was reading the paper on Sunday I saw a section for volunteer recruiting. One group that was recruiting is the PLUS Tuscaloosa program, a division of the Adult Education Center at Shelton State Community College - they're seeking tutors to help teach reading two hours each week.

I love to read. I love to write. In fact, I cannot imagine my life without the knowledge I have of how words come together singularly, and how they connect as a sentence, and how we use them to express our needs and to communicate with those around us.

I have always wanted to help those who are functionally illiterate. I am empathetic to them as I am quite sure I have dyscalculia, which is the math equivalent of dyslexia. I don't think it's fair to assume a child is just not applying himself, or that he's simply a dumbass, when he fails at certain lessons. I think you just have to come at it from a different angle and determine the best protocol for their learning. I have experienced this with horses and it's taught me valuable lessons. While we start with a standard approach to training, it's best to let the horse dictate how they learn. Otherwise you're just frustrated and your horse is probably scared and unwilling to relax his jaw and offer up his back.

Last night I went to the training course at the public library and am very excited that I could be matched with a learner in as little as a week! I'm somewhat nervous about it because I don't want to fail them as a teacher, so I'll have to study-up on the teacher's guide to the lesson book prior to our first session. They teach from a Laubach System which is apparently an industry leader (Fantasia Barrone is learning to read from this system).

I'm very excited about it and hope I can make a difference. I think everyone should read.


Holly said...
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Holly said...

Robby, you will gain so much from this experience! I volunteered (and still do, when my schedule permits) at Knoxville's "Friends of Literacy" when I was in graduate school at UT and while I was teaching, afterwards. I found that it was rewarding, enjoyable, yet also a bit heartbreaking. For a number of adults, there is a fundamental problem for why they still can't read well at the age of 45 or 50. I helped a man here in Knoxville named "French" for almost 6 months, and each week when we opened the book (he was reading a young adult novel along the lines of the Little House on the Prairie series) we started at the same place, with him unable to read any further than last time (and unable to remember the story as we'd read it the week before). Some people have learning disabilities that hinder them, regardless of how much they try, but if they are willing to sit down every week and try, then I feel someone should be there beside them...no matter how they progress (or not). It's a worthy cause, to say the least! And, your time spent working with horses will stand you in good stead. The key is quiet reassurance and patience. I can't wait to hear how well it's going!!