September 20, 2021
Today you're in for a special treat!
We're chatting with two adult literacy teachers who have just come off the back of filming 'Lost for Words' - a life-changing journey for eight brave Australians seeking to transform their lives by taking part in an intensive nine-week-long adult literacy program. It shines a spotlight on Australia's staggeringly low adult literacy rate and is also a beautiful example of the coaching process - analysing what success means to each person, then developing a personalised strategy to achieve it - the essence of what we're all about here on The Blueprint.
Meet Jo Medlin and Adam Nobilia.
Jo is an adult literacy and numeracy advocate who has been teaching literacy for over 30 years. She's done volunteer work and currently serves as president of the Australian Council for Adult Literacy. She's passionate about helping people develop confidence as learners so they can feel empowered to go on and achieve their goals.
Adam has worked in corrective services as a teacher of special education for over 13 years. He teaches literacy, numeracy, and vocational skills, as well as a psychoeducation program designed to reduce offending behaviours. He has counselling qualifications that inform his work as an adult educator. In his personal life, Adam writes and performs music under the moniker “Adam Blacksmith” and is about to release his third studio album, “Blind to the Sea”.
These two amazing educators feature in the uplifting SBS documentary ‘Lost for Words’, airing soon - Wednesday, the 22nd of September at 8:30 PM on SBS.
In this episode, we’re gonna be taking some inspiration from Jo and Adam as they champion the cause of adult literacy, creating confident learners, learners willing to take risks and become the best version of themselves along the way.
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Let’s hear it from Jo and Adam...
• [3:07] ‘Lost for Words’: It's not scripted. What you see is what happened. It follows a group of extremely brave adults who've come forward with literacy challenges and sought assistance. They went through a nine-week very intensive learning experience to help improve their literacy.
• [6:54] The program: Eight adults, different ages and backgrounds. They all have faced different challenges that made them want to come forward. Everyone had a different goal. Each program was specific to their goals. Joe and I became secondary at some point because the students supported each other in the skills that they had.
• [10:08] Jo Defining Success: Sometimes you get caught up in the idea that success is all about measurable improvements. But for these people, success was about something in their life that actually changed. Like being able to go home and read a story to your child, help them with their homework and have that confidence—that was success. Real-life successes.
• [10:55] Adam Defining Success: It’s the confidence, sense of fulfillment, and motivation to be something great because the student wants to and is ready for—acknowledge those successes because those are the longer-lasting ones. The most important and the most valuable ones for all of our students were the intrinsic rewards of just feeling really good about themselves.
• [13:09] If you feel confident in yourself, then other things become achievable.
• [15:23] Challenges making the film: As a teacher, I had this constant reflection of being over-protective of my students. It was challenging to find my place and allow things to be as they were. But I had to allow myself to say that sometimes it's through making mistakes that we do learn more.
• [17:28] Trial and error: We had to be careful not to just reinforce their school experience of saying, no, you've got it wrong. We made a really big effort to embed the adult learning aspects of this and that mistakes are part of it. We don't have all the answers. You might have to get them from someone else or we make mistakes publicly all the time.
• [20:00] In order to be an inspiration, we also have to be willing to be vulnerable and share our struggles. We can't inspire if we're just picture-perfect all the time. We have to be relatable.
• [20:45] It took a lot of bravery and personal ethic to be able to keep engaging, especially because learning is not a magic solution. It's a slow process. And this is the beginning of learning. We gave them a jumpstart, but we didn't fix every issue.
• [24:03] Multimodal aspects of literacy: Being literate is being able to read, some writing on a piece of paper. But there are so many other skills that you can discover.
• [25:55] Shaping education: In adult education, it's not all teacher-driven. We're really there to walk alongside other adults who are looking forward to their journey. It wasn't really about doing it better, but doing it differently. We need to focus on creating people who are confident in themselves to keep going and to take a risk and re-engage in learning.
"Just because you can measure something, doesn't make it the right way to gauge success."
- James Clear
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