As an educator for many years, I was intrigued to learn about the Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment program. After training as an FIE teacher, I introduced the program to home school groups in our area in Nashville, Tennessee. Our home school community was enthusiastic to learn about the mediation techniques and the idea of having FIE classes at the tutorial centres. Parents of children with special needs were particularly eager to hear more about it. We began FIE classes in the fall of 2008. In the last two years, we have taught 9 classes consisting of elementary and high school students. Class size ranged from 4 to 12 students. The following information recounts some of the experiences with those FIE students.
We began, of course, with Organization of Dots. The elementary class consisted of 9 children, ages 9 to 11. The class was enthusiastic about the Dot pages from the first day. The students were eager to show their knowledge of the cognitive functions as we focused on certain ones each week. Overall, the confidence level in the students increased dramatically by the end of the first year. As an aside, I also teach science at the tutorial and had two of the FIE students in my class. One of the students who had FIE the previous year maintained the best grades in the Life Science class. Seven high school FIE classes were taught at 2 different tutorial centers. One of the larger classes consisted of 10 students with no known learning disabilities and 2 students with severe dyslexia.
This class gained mastery over many of their deficiencies, including an increase in math grades, reading and writing (especially the dyslexic students) and overall confidence. The class was enthusiastic and eager to experience each new instrument. Many of these students also took the next level of FIE the next year and have continued to improve. In the fall of 2008, after several weeks of FIE mediation and discussion of the cognitive functions, I asked the high school students to list what they thought their own deficiencies were. The students were surprisingly frank about this. We had discussed the value of evaluating ourselves honestly in order to strengthen weak areas.
The following is a partial list of what the teenagers listed:
- Reading words in the wrong order
- Fear of everything
- Not following directions
- Fear of being graded
- Short attention span
- Skipping important steps
- Trouble focusing
- Fear of taking the first step
- Saying or doing something before thinking
- Fear of making mistakes
- Neglecting important decisions
- Working too fast
- Problems with spelling
- Problems with math and chemistry
- Loss of motivation
- Listening problems
- Won’t keep my mouth shut
Remember, this is what they listed about themselves.
Later in the school year, after months of FIE instruction, I asked the same students to list 5 areas where they felt the FIE program had helped them.
The following is a summary of their actual responses:
- To plan before I act
- To use things that have worked before
- To get it right the first time
- To acknowledge my flaws but not concentrate on them
- To not make something harder than it really is
- Not panicking as much
- To plan ahead and be better organized
- Expanded my vocabulary and helped my spelling
- Helped me to be more patient
- Helped me to understand what I am capable of
- To use self-talk
- Helped me to be able to see things in a different perspective
- To use appropriate and correct language
- To have a clear understanding of the task at hand and what I need to accomplish
- To control impulsivity
The students have experienced significant improvement, not only academically, but in the areas that matter most to all of us: in family, social and spiritual interactions.
From Thinking Connections