Bricks in the wall

5th December 2003 at 00:00
FE it seems has become a dropping off point for outcasts. Here is a description of some of those I teach. John is 52 with clear signs of Asperger Syndrome. He has a fascination with bricks and carries a ruler with him so he can measure them. Each brick is documented in a note-book.

Guy is a few years younger. A school outcast, he lives in council accommodation that appears not to include a bathroom. He smells terrible and has a reading age of a 10-year-old. He was thrown out of home and has no contact with his parents. Khalid is Pakistani and speaks only a smattering of English. He has been in this country since he was seven but left school early after racist abuse. Polly lives with her elderly Mother.

She is a free spirit unrestrained by convention and social rules. She never stops humming. The burden of teaching these people basic skills is beginning to wear on me. When will it stop?

This country contains a scandalously large number of rejected people for whom normal everyday activity is a challenge. Their immediate needs are not always educational and It is too easy to assume that basic skills will solve their ills. But you seem to be moaning about the fact that FE has been given this responsibility. What a great chance to make some difference! You may be jaded but I do not believe that you are cynical. You are making a difference. Keep up the good work.

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