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Two pinches of SALT for a holistic approach to literacy classes in Mauritius

It has been almost two months now since I have been working as a trainer for youngsters wishing to work in hotels in Mauritius. Youngsters between the age of 16 to 25 who are mostly from vulnerable groups and poverty pockets and who sadly have been out of mainstream education system a bit too early. So far, my experiences as an educator/trainer have been limited to doing creative workshops and facilitating for A.B.A (Applied Behavior Analysis) which is one of the approaches contributing to decrease symptom severity and maladaptive behaviors of children suffering from autism or autism spectrum disorders.

 My area of expertise sought for this training being solely about literacy in terms of French and English language, I decided to use my experience of SALT to enhance my practice as a good trainer. As far as the basics of French and English language were concerned it was easy to find all the resources I needed either in books or on the internet. However, I had two challenges and those were: firstly, French and English language in the context of the hotel industry and secondly, ways to make the training attractive as I knew that mainstream education did not work for the youngsters. The latter bearing stigmata of marginalization and often victims of stereotypes due to various demographic factors represented a big challenge for me as I wanted to make my approach fruitful and impactful to them. I had 3 different sessions with 3 different groups and each group being diverse I must adopt my rhythm and content of work for each one to make my approach specific and unique to each.

The first pinch of SALT I added to my practice was on the very first day of the class whereby I implemented “What makes us human?” as an introductory question. By asking my audience to reflect on “What makes us human?” I provided them with the impulse to bring down the barriers they had within themselves, towards their friends in the class and the broader society by showing them the similarities among all humans. Following their reflection and subsequent brainstorming they would give me a series of words and from that I would point towards the importance of good and effective communication and the use of proper verbal as well as body language to communicate with people from different backgrounds. Thus, I was making them realise how beneficial this literacy class would be to them be it personally and professionally. By doing this I was ensuring they knew why they were here and what they would gain from the class. Indeed, for me it was primordial that the many reasons for why they dropped out of the mainstream education system was not repeated in my class and so I allowed them to reflect by themselves and decide for themselves.  

My second pinch of SALT was the “heart exercise”. I gave them a square piece of paper and told them to write one hope and one concern. I chose to do it the anonymous way because I wanted them to feel free to write whatever they wanted without the fear of being judged. I was amazed at how resourceful the exercise turned out to be. This simple exercise gave me a sneak peek within the heart of my audience and while the hopes consisted mostly of being financially stable, having a house and a happy family etc. the concerns helped me encompass the underlying issues of my audience which were for example fear of being robbed and bullied, not having money or food. However, some concerns were so far unconceivable to me until I saw the words on paper and these were, the fear of death of parents and having to look after younger siblings, being alone, becoming addicted to social medias or inability to cope with social medias.

With these two pinches of SALT I could have a better understanding of the youngsters I was working with and thus I was able to adapt my approach and practice accordingly to reach to my audience in the best way possible.


To be continued…

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Comment by Yumilah Govinden on April 26, 2017 at 12:47am

Thank you Autry! All thanks to you for being a mentor and coach:-)

Comment by Autry Haynes on April 25, 2017 at 11:26pm

Hi Yumilah, great way of getting to know who you are will make working together so much healthier....looking forward to part 2, 3, 4,..........(^_^)

Thanks for sharing....

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