Students Who Learn Differently Overseas
If you are a student who learns differently who is living abroad, a family member of such a student, or an educational professional concerned with the teaching of such students, you've come to the right place. Much of the information compiled on these pages is the result of research undertaken by members of the Federation of American Women's Clubs Overseas. In many cases, the respondents have been American women who were living overseas at the time the study took place. Many of these were living in non-English speaking countries. Often the women had to try to find adequate accommodations for their LD learners with little or no assistance. Students Who Learn Differently Overseas is an attempt to help fill that void by researching accommodations, rights, and resources that are or should be made available to our learning-differently students, their families and their educators.
We live in a world that holds out many of its greatest prizes to those who can read and write. In other words, to those who can function effectively in a symbolic, linguistic medium. The ability merely express one's thoughts verbally is not enough. Written words and sentences are needed to carry thoughts, needs and wishes to others over time and distance, whether it be in a note to a friend or over the Internet to a colleague on the other side of the world. Therefore, formal education rightly strives to produce students who are skilled in these abilities.
But unfortunately, many of the techniques of teaching in practice today are not suitable for all types of learners, and too many students who are of normal or above normal intelligence are mislabeled, mistaught and dismissed as being stupid, lazy or inattentive. The student is faulted rather than the method of instruction, and she or he becomes a life-long victim of an unsuitable educational process.
Recognition of a problem or a difficulty when one is far away from traditional support systems can be very daunting. Family, friends and care systems are no longer easily and economically accessible for advice and dialogue. Suddenly expectations and preconceptions as to how things should be done and what steps could be taken disappear, often leaving the displaced family members feeling confused, resentful and, perhaps most importantly, alone. These feelings can be multiplied ten- to a hundredfold when facing a foreign culture and an unfamiliar language.
When you are a student or a family member of a student who learns differently, the problems you face in getting the help you need, can seem overwhelming. If you had a broken leg, everyone would see your problem, and most everyone would be happy to assist you in getting the appropriate care or accommodation. Even in a foreign country, this would not be a very great problem. But when the problem is invisible, and when sometimes no one, including the parents, the teachers, or the students themselves, is aware that a problem even exists, getting the appropriate help can be very difficult. Indeed and most regrettably, sometimes the problem is never recognized, and appropriate help is never offered.
Families whose main financial support comes from employment in international companies can become vulnerable to discrimination in the job market. Sometimes lack of promotions result if family members require special support that cannot be found in international settings and the family is unable to accept a foreign assignment.
- To heighten awareness of how and why some students learn very differently from others by examining some current thought on the subject.
- To highlight some of the challenges and rewards facing students, family members and educational professionals when a student learns differently in an overseas environment.
- To suggest positive action that can be taken in an international setting.
- To help alleviate negative feelings through sharing knowledge of how others have dealt with similar situations.
Students Who Learn Differently Overseas
by Susan van Alsenoy, AWC Antwerp
Page created 10/29/99 EvE. Last updated 03/01/11 SvA.
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