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There is the saying: “If you judge a fish by its ability to fly, it will always believe it is a failure.” Here’s how I provided inclusiveness on all levels.

I have encountered this many times in formal education, where the curriculum is based on a rigid set of outcomes. Unfortunately, as a trainer and assessor, I do encounter training packages that are not suitable for certain students. Although reasonable adjustments could be made, there is often not the flexibility to make those adjustments.

Teaching a class becomes particularly challenging if the students all have very different levels of educational backgrounds, and very different interests (and sometimes they are required to attend, but they really don’t want to be there).

Unfortunate Students

In my previous role as an Employability Skills Trainer, I have come across young people, who had lost confidence they can learn anything because their schoolteacher told them they were stupid! They did not want to be in my class, because they didn’t see the point. They had nothing against me personally, but they had very bad experiences in the education system. It was just that any kind of “school” felt like torture to them, so they quit school altogether. Now here they were, in my class! Eventually, with encouragement, and patience, they actually began to enjoy learning and being in the classroom.

Fortunate Students

On the other side of the coin, students in the same class held a Master’s Degree. This basic course was also compulsory for them and they were practically insulted they had to attend! Yet, the material was too basic for them and they complained that this was “kindergarten”. I had to find a way to keep them engaged in the program as well. Giving them a “co-teaching role” appeared to be the solution. I explained that certain students need a bit of extra help and encouragement and that while in class anyway, they might as well learn how to take on a leadership role and help those who need it most. If anything, it taught them patience, kindness, and consideration for others who were not so fortunate.

Whether or not you have finished high school makes no difference to your level of intelligence or ingenuity! I have met people who have not finished high school and have a street-smart way about them, that would make most university students envious. While they were learning the theory in university, the practical student of life was learning valuable lessons by doing!