One of the most frequent things I get asked is this:
“How is your programme (Swords & Stationery) different from tuition services outside?”
I tell parents that S&S is not a traditional tuition service when they ask about “tuition services”. Instead it is an educational therapy programme for dyslexic students. Some might call it specialist tutoring too.
Thus, one might ask: what exactly is it that we do, and what makes the programme different—unique even—from other educational services out there?
1) Dyslexia is our focus
Although my students call me “Teacher Shaun”, the “Teacher” has an added context.
What is this context?
Well, it’s about being in an environment of kids and teenagers with dyslexia, some of whom might have co-morbidities like ADHD.
Our curriculum is specifically catered towards these students. We begin with basic and intermediate literacy components first, then slowly move up to other areas like exam skills.
In fact, we do not accept neurotypical students. It’s not that we have a bias, but just that our curriculum has been specifically tailored to suit the needs of dyslexics. We’ve also found dyslexic students to have a greater appreciation for our pedagogy.
2) Empirically proven practices and techniques
The Swords & Stationery approach combines practices from multiple sources. These include:
- Orton-Gillingham intervention
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy elements
- Play Therapy elements
- Academic techniques and frameworks, such as Dr Derewianka’s Process-Genre Approach
By using all of these elements in the classroom, I can target students’ weaknesses and rectify them, allowing me to maximise their learning abilities. This is one of the main differences between the S&S educational therapy programme and traditional tuition.
3) Learning made fun
Finally, what sets Swords & Stationery apart from every single learning institution in the world is its use of games as therapy and academic learning. Through games, students can learn in deep, meaningful ways.
For example, I can use games to help students appreciate other fictional genres. I can also use fictitious scenarios to teach social skills (”You meet your contact at a bar, but you get the feeling of being watched”).
Above all, I can use games for academic purposes. I can use a role-playing game to demonstrate politics, or teach reading comprehension. Games allow me to put students in fictional situations which model real-world counterparts.
In other words, learning is made fun.
Not only is this far less tedious than just listening to the teacher drone away, it also adds drama and tension. A good game can keep students at the edge of their seats. At the end of such a lesson, students usually come out feeling like they’ve been through a roller-coaster ride, all while feeling smarter, knowing they’ve learned something of value.
4) Lessons are adapted to the needs of each student
Unlike a lot of therapy programmes out there, we generally prefer to do group classes. 1-to-1 learning is boring, not just for us, but for the kids too! This means that a lot of times, we need to carry out differentiated learning. I have taught over 100 students, and all of them have different learning styles and needs. For instance, one student might have more severe dyslexia, thus needing more help with reading and spelling. Another might need to work on his emotional regulation, thus needing more activities to help him learn introspection.
We are very particular about each student’s needs. The reason is simple: holistic development cannot come about if we use a one-size-fits-all approach. A good educational therapy programme should work towards boosting students’ grades by filling in gaps that they’re missing. In my personal opinion, a good therapist should always ask “What is preventing you from maximising that potential?” not “Why are you so slow?”
Concluding words: we’re not just a tuition or therapy programme for dyslexics
I don’t say this enough, but I have only the deepest respect for my fellow educators. The world is a better place when kids and youths are molded to become morally upright intellectuals.
This is why Swords & Stationery exists. We complement existing educational and enrichment services out there, rather than being a direct competitor. Our programme was designed for young people with dyslexia, with whom traditional methods of teaching don’t work as well.
Keen to find out more about our services? Drop us a message. Consultation is free!
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Game to Grow: Formerly known as Wheelhouse Workshop, Game to Grow is an organisation in Seattle that uses games as therapy. They were one of the original inspirations for the S&S approach.
Tabletop Role-Playing Games In Singapore—Case Studies For Education And Empowerment: This MA thesis by Tan Shao Han, game master-extraordinaire and the mastermind behind Curious Chimeras, deeply inspired me to develop many of the initial ideas for the S&S approach. It’s a good read on how gaming can empower an individual to maximise his/her potential.
Why Dungeons & Dragons is Good for You (In Real Life): a TEDx talk by Ethan Gilsdorf, author of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks, on why Dungeons & Dragons is good for the mind.