I used to associate learning disability with feeble-mindedness and after watching the Fat City Workshop videos, I felt some shame because of this perception. Watching the videos enabled me to understand what children with learning disabilities must be going through. I felt that they were quite helpless in that their condition wasn’t really something they could do anything about. The sad thing is that teachers and parents are the only ones who can do something about their disabilities, at least in terms of making things easier and more comfortable for them, and yet these same teachers and parents are the ones who have no patience for them and who are quick to reprimand them for their weaknesses.
Through the activities of the participants in the workshop, I was able to put myself in the shoes of children with learning disabilities in that even I won’t be able to do something if I really don’t know how to do it, no matter what the reward or punishment is. The difference with me is that, as an adult, I can assert myself and explain that I really don’t know something. However, a child doesn’t have enough courage to assert themselves. They would also think that it’s wrong to not know something and that this is a shortcoming on their part. As such, it’s sad that teachers and parents are quick to judge and become angry at these children for their inabilities instead of offering them the support that they need.
I believe that it would be better if parents and teachers would be quick on giving praise and positive feedback instead. These children are having a difficult time as it is and constantly giving them negative feedback will only corrode their self-confidence and self-efficacy even more. As a result, this causes them to take even less risks in participating in school activities for fear of being embarrassed. Conversely, if these children are given more positive feedback for the right things that they say or do – no matter how big or small – then their self-confidence and self-efficacy increase, which also leads to increased participation in class.
In the same regard, I agree that motivation enables us to do something only if we already have the capability of doing it. As such, when we see children being unmotivated then we should just guide them and teach them instead of criticizing them. We should not jump to conclusions and make assumptions as to why they’re not motivated. Surprisingly, it seems to never occur to parents and teachers that a child may be unmotivated because they are learned helpless. However, the child often can’t express this and only by spending time with the child will parents and teachers be able to discern this.
Lastly, the real definition of fairness, which Dr. Lavoie stated in the workshop, was another source of enlightenment for me. As with most of the workshop’s participants, I also had the notion that fairness meant making sure that everyone got the same. I had initially thought that all sorts of special treatments were unfair. However, the definition that fairness is giving everyone what they need makes perfect sense to me. Children with learning disabilities deserve all the help and care that parents and teachers can give them. This is really the least that parents and teachers can do for them. As for me, it’s something that I will surely keep in mind in my future interactions with people, both young and old alike.
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<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xx5kr2T7rK8> queentessie. (2008, June 24). F.A.T. City LD processing. Retrieved from
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sbthatcher. (2008, August 5). Fairness. Retrieved from <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6G9-- hUQDwY>
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