Recently we have taken in Brandon*, a teenager who was severely neglected for the past 15 years of his life. He was adopted by a family when he was still a baby. His mother is disabled and the family advised her that they would bring him up in the hope that he will eventually take care of her when he is all grown up and independent.
However during his Primary school years, he barely learnt anything. Being in the last class, teachers typically neglect most of the students and Brandon wasn’t spared from such treatment as well. When he entered secondary school, Brandon started playing truant and he would do so almost every day. In fact, once he stole money from his grandmother to go to the cybercafé! Eventually the family decided that they were not able to care for him and he then came into our care.
Sharon, who is one of our seniour tuition staff, wanted to teach him English as he doesn’t even know all the alphabets properly. As she was teaching him, she came to realize that he has very unique ways of learning as he does not learn well from the typical pedagogy in school. Brandon is actually a very visual person. He associates whatever he learns with a certain illustration or image. Here are some images:
Brandon learns basic food items with their spelling. The drawings above each word were drawn by Sharon.
Sharon wanted to try a different approach and made his learning fun. So she got him to do some cut- outs and asked him to label each of the pictures.
As Sharon was teaching the other boys (She takes turns to pay attention to each of the boys), Brandon got bored and started drawing on the empty page on the right. (above )
When Sharon was paying attention to another boy again, Brandon took the leftover cut-outs and made a little lantern instead!
Sharon said that initially, Brandon was very reluctant to attend her classes. Every time he sees her walk in the Home, he will make a face and attempt to hide. There was once when Sharon didn’t see him anywhere and so asked the other boys where he went. They told her that Brandon went to do gardening outside. Puzzled, she went outside to look for him and even circled the whole Home but could not find him. She eventually found that he was hiding in his room!
Sharon knew that it’s not that Brandon did not like her; but that he associates her with the classes that he has to attend. It certainly did not help with the horrible experiences that Brandon has endured in school before that. Nevertheless, Sharon is determined to bring the best out of him as she does for all her other students at Shelter.
Even though Brandon has missed out a lot on his education for the past 15 years, this little beginning is a significant start for both Brandon and us. Every time we witness an opportunity given to a child to learn and to step away from the wrong path, we are truly joyful!
*Brandon is an alias given to protect his identity