Learning is and has always been a part of our lives. Even at a young age, we have already shown signs of discovering and understanding pertaining to the world around us. Some people, though, find the learning process difficult to handle. It is not until recently that learning disabilities was recognized. This type of neurological disorder causes difficulty in receiving or gathering information and let alone remembering them which therefore affects the ability of an individual to read, write, comprehend and reason out. Thus, students with such learning disability need special strategies and patience in order to be able to teach them effectively.
There are many types of learning disabilities, the most common being dyslexia or the inability of an individual to read. Other types include dyscalculia or the inability in math reasoning, disgrafia or the difficulty with syntax and other types that has to do with the audio and visual difficulty. Students with Learning Disability are intelligent beings who just posses some common problems dealing with information processing, memory retention and the like, making them perform considerably slower than the others, thus, making them different. How can we really help individuals with learning disability? Do we treat them as mayhem to our society? According to one famous author, "Successful adults with learning disabilities: â€¦ have reframed their learning disabilities. As successful adults they have managed not only to accept who they are, but also to understand that their learning styles are not really deficient, just different. They see themselves as unique, not weak, individuals. They develop plans for how to accommodate their learning disabilities, and even make their so called learning disabilities work for them. People with learning disabilities who advocate for themselves should hold their heads up high. They are not being helpless. They are taking care of themselves - independently. And that's the whole idea" (Henry B. Reiff, Ph.D., 2007). So instead of making them feel inferior, let's do our part to help them bring out the best in them.
There are several students who suffer from learning disability all over the world. It is our duty and responsibility to be there for them and show that we care. It is because of this reason that many Universities/Institutions have developed different programs to see to it that the needs of these special individuals are met. One successful curriculum is through the implementation of CPD or Continuing Professional Development that is being practiced for many years now. What is CPD? CPD is defined as "any process or activity that provides added value to the capability of the professional through the increase in knowledge, skills and personal qualities necessary for the appropriate execution of professional and technical duties, often termed competence." (Professional Associations Research Network.) It is a combination of approaches, ideas and techniques that helps in managing one's growth and learning.
Why CPD and why is it so important?
According to DfES (Department for Education and Skills), CPD is defined as "any activity that increases knowledge or understanding and effectiveness in School. It can help raise children's standards and improve job satisfaction." Since CPD is about school improvement and it aims to provide high quality teaching and learning, it is a fundamental element of school improvement.
Reasons why CPD is important:
CPD increases both teacher's and student's confidence and self-esteem, thereby, making teachers motivated and students improve learning.
CPD emphasizes on assessment for learning allowing the creative use of learning styles and increasing partnership with others beyond the classroom.
CPD is all about providing recognition for skills, knowledge and competencies obtained by staff through formal accreditation.
CPD aims to provide technical capability and knowledge to make the school a safe and secure environment for everyone.
Majority of top companies and organizations invests in CPD because it has the Best Value of all other programs.
"Every child and member of the school community matters" - this is what CPD is all about.
Nowadays, Knowledge and Skills play an important role in the professional world. Through encouraging CPD to be a part of the Institution's course, they are creating a competitive advantage for both the students and employees as a result of their increased expertise in their chosen field. There are several activities that can be undertaken in order to achieve appropriate proficiency and be able to effectively educate students with learning disability. Some of these activities include reflections on dyslexic learners, using reflection to REFLECT on IFL, teaching outside the classroom and how it can engage students with LDD from 17 years upwards, in multi sensory experiences and an understanding of how different perceptions can dictate the outcome in different ways for each participant, Safeguarding training seminar and Reading books, journals, web sites.
Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia
Dyspraxia refers to children/adult who have movement difficulties. It is often associated with perception, language and thought problem. It is said to be a hidden condition poorly understood by many. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disorder yet those suffering from this condition may improve with maturity. This was a quote written by an 8-year old girl who's suffering from Dyspraxia, "Everyone says I'm stupid but I know I'm not. I wish someone could understand what it is like to be me. I feel so fed up and lonely" (by Sarah aged 8 - Dyspraxia Foundation Leaflet "Dyspraxia Explained"). Clearly, we have no idea what individuals with learning disability have to go through every waking moment of their lives. We can only offer acceptance and understanding to make them feel a little better.
"Dyslexia is not a complexity. It is a compound of simple factors which can be dealt with step-by-step. At dyslexia's root is a natural ability, a talent. The gift of dyslexia is the gift of mastery." (Ron Davis). A dyslexic person is said to have a disoriented mind when confused. "It needs to be understood that dyslexia is a "learning difference"; just as we all look different, we think and learn differently, too." (Stacey Poulos).
There are different definitions for Dyscalculia. Some experts define it in terms of an underlying presumed genetic, constitutional or neuroanatomical immaturity in specific areas of the brain (Kosc, 1974). Thus, a general definition for dyscalculia is a condition that affects the ability to acquire arithmetical skills. People with this disability may have difficulty understanding number facts and procedures. They may have inefficient working memory skills in audio or visual (or both combined) which causes difficulty with processing numbers.
Many of us still don't understand that students with learning disability are special in their own way. Often than not, they are being discriminated and are being treated as an embarrassment to the society. To prevent this from happening, there were several programs or activities being implemented to help the concerned with their special needs.
Continuing Professional Development program is one of the most beneficial strategies that gives an individual a chance to achieve mature growth. It builds confidence and credibility among teachers and helps each participant to cope positively with change by constantly updating skill set. It also serves as a learning experience for both students and teachers. "Nobody's good in everything. Advantages and disadvantages come in many forms" (Charles Schwab).
Over time, there have been a lot of famous people with learning disability, yet it didn't stop them from feeding their hunger for knowledge, instead, it made them better persons who never stopped learning. A famous Physicist/Mathematician once said, "Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them" (Albert Einstein).