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Workshops can help cut crime


A workshop presented to a variety of early years, primary and secondary school teachers may help to prevent crime in school students and school leavers in the near future, according to Cornelia Bonterre of The Whole Child and director and organiser of ARROW. The one-day workshop on Brain Based Learning was held recently in Port-of-Spain and saw teachers from a variety of primary and secondary schools being represented. The multi-sensory, self-voice literacy programme covered the brain and how it works, with practical information on effective brain based teaching strategies for children from birth to teenagers. The Whole Child is a consultancy giving workshops covering effective teaching in a multiplicity of areas such as Differentiation in the Classroom and Fundamentals of Teaching Literacy, as well as the Introduction to Brain Based Teaching.

Teachers participating in the workshop were highly impressed by the information that was presented: “The sessions were both informative and research driven, with useful insights;” “Informative and helpful;” and “a lot of food for thought,” were some of the comments made. Research in criminality has shown that more than 60 per cent of inmates were likely to be functionally illiterate, with illiteracy seen in 85 per cent of juveniles in the court system. It was felt that addressing literacy in the classroom for all learners through brain-based techniques would open many new future opportunities for the students receiving the classroom instruction based on extensive research on the brain and how it learns.

Research on education and crime

The UK Independent newspaper has clarified the findings from a report published by the Basic Skills Agency UK, that “children with poor reading and maths skills are increasingly likely to become hardened criminals as society becomes more complex, according to research that sheds light on the link between education and criminality.” Sarah Cassidy, the education correspondent, reported that “there was now a ‘significant’ connection between low literacy and numeracy levels and repeat offending, particularly for men and younger people. The agency estimates that one in two prisoners have problems with reading while nearly two thirds struggle with numbers. It argues that educational programmes that target basic literacy and numeracy skills are essential to reduce crime.”

The link between low literacy and crime The inability to read and write well may not be a direct cause of criminal behaviour, but low literacy and crime are related. Daily life is harder for people with low literacy, so they are more likely to feel frustrated and dissatisfied. People with low literacy skills usually have equally inadequate problem-solving skills. People who have low literacy skills tend to be less active citizens than other people. They are less likely to get involved in community activities like sports, school groups, church groups, and so on. As a result, they often feel isolated and vulnerable, and many of them feel like outcasts. This may partly explain why people who have low literacy are statistically more likely to be involved in crime—either as the offender or the victim. It may also help to explain why crime rates are higher in neighbourhoods where a high percentage of people have low literacy.

The Canada Crime Prevention Committee 2011 has acknowledged the unfailing link between poor literacy and the crime it faced every day. According to the committee, “Many people with low literacy find it hard to do everyday things with their families that others take for granted, such as understanding letters they receive from their child’s school, or not being able to help their children with homework to help them succeed, thereby continuing the inter-generational cycle of literacy challenges. Raising literacy rates in families in the community contributes to reducing crime and lowering re-offending.” More info

• Brain-Based Literacy is now available in T&T through ARROW. Director and organiser of ARROW, Cornelia Bonterre, sees this as a way forward in terms of changing the whole feel of learning in the classroom, where even the most struggling students will start to think of themselves as successful learners and achievers, resulting in higher self-esteem and better choices for their futures.

• The full list of workshop topics can be obtained from the ARROW. Office at 76 Pembroke Street in Port-of-Spain. Information can also be accessed by calling 624- 9063