In this series of related posts with the title “Trigger Warnings” I am talking about strategies for using “difficult” material in an adult literacy or ABE class. I’ll get to why it is important to use such material in a later post.
Usually I was aware that a piece of material might be uncomfortable or very difficult for some students, and could prepare accordingly, but once I was caught by surprise by the need for a trigger warning. As I think about it, my surprise surprises me. Did I think everyone would be comfortable talking about menstruation in an ABE class? Or did I bury any misgivings because I wanted to right an imbalance my feminist soul had noticed and railed against? It happened like this:
In an upper level ABE class one year, two women students came to me with a trigger warning that I ought to have anticipated, but didn’t. Continue reading
It seems that “trigger warnings” are everywhere these days, from the usual “This program contains crude language and sexual content; viewer discretion is advised,” to “Trigger warning: rape, extreme verbal abuse, and torture.”
You might think if ever there was a place for a trigger warning, it’s an ABE, adult literacy or GED class where teachers daily work with students who have experiences of violence:
- those whose childhood experiences of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse made it difficult for them to succeed in the K-12 system;
- those who came from war zones, who may have been tortured and who saw loved ones killed or wounded;
- those who, as youth or adults, were or still are involved in gangs or other criminal activity;
- those who are currently living with violence from their boyfriend or spouse.
- those whose schools lives were miserable because of taunts and bullying from students and teachers because they did not succeed at school tasks.
Scenario 1: Mohan tells you he has an appointment tomorrow at the financial aid office, scheduled for the middle of your class. He adds that he is sorry that he couldn’t get the appointment at any other time. The next day, he arrives at your class on time, slips out to go to his appointment, and returns quietly half an hour later.
Scenario 2: You explain an activity, divide the class Continue reading
I was a student today, at my aquafit class. I was a student who resisted, who didn’t participate, who went missing. You know, one of those students who makes you wonder why you ever wanted to teach.
We had a teacher who has taught our class only a few times, a lovely, enthusiastic teacher with a bounce in her step and encouragement in her voice. Continue reading
Factors that Facilitate Adult Learner Success in the NWT starts with a review of earlier findings:
…we understand that:
- Non-academic outcomes are qualitative, intangible, subjective, personal, and extensive.
- Learners gain much more from ALBE programs than academic outcomes suggest. Continue reading
When a feeling is not a feeling…
I don’t trust words that end in “-ed” when they are used to describe emotions.
Take “loved” for example, as in “I feel loved.” Well, no, “loved” is not a feeling. That sentence really means that you have noticed that someone loves you. What you feel is another thing. You may feel happy, joyful, ecstatic; you may feel love in return for the person who loves you.
On the other hand, if the person who loves you is a spouse that you want to divorce, you may feel guilty, sad, impatient, angry…. If the person who says “I love you,” is stalking you, you may be afraid, angry, anxious, curious…. Continue reading
I expected it to be an interesting activity. I was sure people would take part, and hoped they would enjoy it. But they didn’t seem to care.
I gathered some objects on a table in the classroom–modelling clay, bread dough, a crumpled plastic bag, rubber bands, pebbles, a plastic mug and a ceramic mug, Continue reading