Did you read a chapter in a book today?
Or read a nutrition label on the side of a cereal box?
How about checking the prices of similar items for a better deal?
What about the various memes on our social media feed?
Are you able to expressed your thoughts as fluently and be assured that your message is clear?
Today, I was working along side a young man, A, he is a recent migrant to Australia and has very little understanding of English and numeracy. With fragmented English, A shared that he has never gone to school. He’s first experience in school was 1 year ago. A is 20 years of age.
I have had the privileged to work with A at the tail end of last year and recognise that he required intensive support with completing questions and activities in his workbook. It was today that I truly became aware of how much A’s delayed opportunitiy in education has affected his life, especially understanding others and for others to understand him.
Today, A and I were working on some units that he has yet to complete during the scheduled programme time; one of the activities required basic arithmetic and currency identification. The activity was a series of questions asking for how many notes or coins of a denomination is required to reach a certain value:
Value needed: $400
You need to work out how many $10 makes $400
A did not understand the concept of multiplication and additions past 20 was something he did not have confidence in. We ended up spending 1.5hours on this activity. I was trying different ways to support A, using play money as a visual representation, pattern recognition and counting with fingers. There is no other way to put it, but bluntly, A struggled.
The abstract concept and the language barrier highlighted his lack of experience in education. There were many times throughout today that he would give me blank looks or guess answers. Asking A what he did not understand was a useless question and asking A what he understood did not shed light on his comprehension either. What was beautiful through the whole process was that he always had a smile.
I wrote this post because I want to celebrate A for who he is and drawing awareness to being thankful for the education that has been provided to me, to all of us.
A’s dedication, patience and determination towards his education is admirable. Despite being shy, he would always see others out to converse in English. When he is at a loss for words, which is a fair amount during a conversation, he would smile and then laugh at himself.
A has made me truly thankful that the opportunities for education were not denied from me. Yes, I acknowledge that I have squandered some, exchanging it to enter the workforce and make a living, however, because I have a solid foundation in literacy, numeracy and critical thinking, I have the opportunity to further my education should I choose to.
This year is his second year in Australia and I am excited for the growth A will have for the years to come the fluency in the English language and the confidence in numeracy which will support his goals of furthering his education and gain sustainable and meaningful employment.
Moral of the story:
Thirst for education and knowledge, learn something new each day and always be thankful for opportunity and choices that come your way.
Also, thank your parents for ‘pushing’ you to go to school.
NB: Please note that the views described in this post is my own, independent from any organisation.