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IT WAS 12 years ago that Sherin Mammen chanced upon tutoring. Since then, she has been striving to make learning more inclusive for slow learners and children with special needs.
Now 46, Mammen had wanted to work from home in her mid-thirties and began to tutor high school and junior college students in social sciences and English literature. Slowly, she specialised in teaching those with learning disabilities.
“In 12 years, I have taught 12-15 students who had been medically diagnosed with dyslexia and dysgraphia,” says Mammen who also detected four such students herself and suggested their parents that the children be clinically tested.
“There is this whole stigma about learning disability in our society. Parents get unduly alarmed when there is no need to worry. It is not a mental illness. It is just a different way of assimilating things and learning stuff,” explains Mammen. “Parents need to accept it rather than deny it. Getting your children medically tested will gain them writers for their exams and with few strategic adjustments in the learning process, the students can successfully work their way around,” she adds.
After finishing her MA in Literature and a diploma in Journalism, Mammen worked as a freelance writer, writing mostly about topics related to education.
“It is during this time that I gathered most of my knowledge about slow learners, learning disabilities and kids with special needs. I was writing many articles pertaining to the topic and I researched extensively about it,” recalls Mammen.
She believes that segregating slow learners and children with special needs is not necessary.
She keeps her tutoring batches small, intimate and inclusive. “These kids need some encouragement every once in a while and that word of motivation can take them a long way. Their test-papers need to examined more carefully and they should be given a personal, constructive feedback. They should not be picked upon and yelled at. Every attempt at boosting their confidence can prove to be extremely rewarding,” says Mammen.
The kind of emotional security that Mammen fosters with the students has made some of them seek her advice on career and other personal matters too.
“This one student I detected as a slow learner, stuck with me for six years and the transformation has been unbelievably beautiful. From a really closed and a hesitant person, she has become a people’s person and has now taken up my advice to pursue a career in human resources,” beams Mammen.