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The Growth Of Awareness Of Adult Illiteracy In Britain

Again there is no insistence on joining in the post-club visit to the local pub.  However, for those who do go, it can be enjoyable and rewarding.  When a student takes on the volunteer at darts or Bar Billiards and wins, that can be a healthy experience for both.

The social activities, as well as others such as theatre visits, excursions and the like, as a club can contribute greatly to a student's poise and social confidence as well as extending social awareness for everyone.

The club approach to literacy teaching is a liberal education for all concerned.  It is possible for anyone who wishes to improve their literacy skills to do so, given the appropriate attention and help.  However, beyond that bare fact there lies the need to see the relationship of writing and reading to life as a whole.  This cannot be done solely in an individual process, although the process begins with the one-to-one relationship.  If that is a good relationship it is possible to foster a network of good relationships and at the same time build up a happy mature group.  

It is always hoped that ultimately the students will be ready to graduate to the Adult Education Institutes where they can learn other skills that appeal to them in the context of groups of people who enjoy being together.

As the clubs have grown in size and numbers, it has become more necessary to have a standard of training to ensure the application of the Rathbone approach in every club and to assist supervisors in the induction and on-going guidance of the volunteers.  To this end, a training manual is currently in preparation, and various chapters are being written by the supervising tutors and members of the Management Group with special skills or experience.

A two-tier approach is being used - a basic one for the volunteers who can anticipate having their needs met by the supervising tutors, and a more professional level for the supervisors to assist them in meeting the volunteers’ needs and advising on the language experience approach for beginners in literacy.  The training includes guidance on discussing this approach with the volunteers and in stressing the importance of language experience both technically and with regard to writing.  The approach facilitates rapid recognition of letters and the importance of recognising that socially writing precedes reading if only by a short gap.

Volunteers are given as much of the technicalities of teaching literacy as they need for the job in hand.  If more than this is given, they may not absorb any of the data or if they do absorb it, they may attempt to apply the theory inappropriately to the student’s needs at that time.

When the volunteer needs more for the progress of the student it is made available by consultation with the supervising tutor, who needs to he able to suggest alternative means to break through a block or to progress beyond the point reached.

The supervisor needs confidence in his own awareness of his perspective of methods and approaches to literacy teaching.  There is a wide range of materials and aids for the volunteer to draw on and the supervising tutor has these in the repertoire of assistance that may be given to the volunteer.  Regular discussion between the supervisor and volunteer enable both to discuss not only techniques but also the individual needs of the student.

© Amity Reading Clubs and Betty Cooper 1978 to 2002 Page 22 of 51

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