Taking a more detailed investigation to my specialism area of teaching the vulnerable and those disengaged from society through using sport as a tool. We would soon discover a field full of richness and diversity covering a whole range topics and teaching approaches required to enable me to meet the needs of those furthest away from society. However, what do we mean by the word vulnerable and disengaged from society, what does it take to be a teacher within this area of specialism?
To answer the first part of the question…through the experiences of the Erasmus+ Youth exchanges I have discovered that the word ‘vulnerable and disengaged from society’ is not just limited to the old and disabled, but also to the young, the homeless, disadvantaged, and those out of work. To answer the second part, I will attempt to argue that being the most knowledgeable within your chosen area does not necessarily make you a great teacher. For me to become a great teacher, knowledge is not merely enough. It is evident that soft or essential skills, competences and their delivery are required to enable my teaching to be effective. To enable me to explain this further, I will apply sport as an example to the skills that I believe are required in supporting those who fall within the NEETs category in becoming employable. However, I am not fully able to provide a detailed argument supporting my theories as it goes beyond the criteria of this short word blog.
Giroux (2009), stated “for many young people, the future looks bleak, filled with the promise of low -paying, low-skilled jobs, and the collapse of the welfare state, and, if you are a person of colour and poor, there is a real threat of either being unemployed or incarceration.” (Giroux, 2009a p141-42).
Today for me a teacher must be adaptable in generating a different way or mind set in their delivery to young people. For many employers simply a good education is not enough. Soft skills such as self-esteem, market awareness, presenting and negotiation skills are what the employer needs to sustain a vibrant business.
My approach to teaching my specialism subject around those that are disadvantaged and vulnerable is to reflect and build upon the lessons of critical pedagogy throughout my teaching career. Today, I find my aims are to take a humanistic approach to those who are disadvantaged and vulnerable. I feel the Maslow theory of hierarchy needs and self-actualisation are fundamental to meeting the needs of young people today. It is in my hypothesis which is subjective and therefore down to interpretation that current systematic approaches require radical changes from the mainstream policy discourse. However, this ideology of change towards a philosophy to move away from current instrumental approaches to education will not happen overnight.
Using sport as an activity tool for empowerment and employability provides me as a teacher the context for using the nature of sporting disciplines to provide inclusive regular sessions of physical activity to bring people together of all abilities. Young people will learn how sports and its psychology can provide and equip them with the soft skills required to enhance their chances of employability. A different approach to the delivery of teaching to NEETs the fundamental soft skills of working as a team using sport as a tool gives them a stronger sense of their identity, competences, strengths, and value.
My experience of teaching and coaching as a mentor supports, encourages, and develops self-confidence using sport as a fun way to encourage inclusion and gain employability skills. However, it is in our own capacity as teachers for us to reflect and develop in different stages and adapt to different people that which characterises those who learn more effectively from our own experiences (Boud, Keogh & Walker, 1985, p19)
To conclude today a teacher needs to have more than just simply a good knowledge on their subject to deliver to students. Today with the ever-increasing diversity and richness of students coming to education the teacher needs to adapt and not only maintain their skills but to grow and develop. They need to be more than just a teacher; they need to have the very same soft skills they are trying to encourage their students to have, especially when everything is aimed to employability. The teacher needs to have a holistic approach and be able to plan, deliver and disseminate as an advertisement to their students of what it needs to become a quality teacher and more importantly enhancement of employability.
H.A. Giroux (2009) Youth in a Suspect Society: Democracy or Disposability? (New York: Palgrave Macmillan).
Boud, D., Keogh, R. and Walker, D. (1985). Reflection: Turning Experience into Learning, London, Kogan page Ltd.