I've been going to training for the past month to become a certified literacy tutor. This has been an interesting experience, mostly for the other people I've met there, but also because of the new knowledge I fit into my head. We "graduated" Monday night, and now I'm looking forward to getting started with my new learner after I get back from ATL Turkey Fest X.
Some moments of some of these meetings have been kind of a challenge - there is always one crazy person who doesn't seem to know that they're crazy, and then another one who's kind of deliberately reflexively crazy and keeps bringing it up, along with how different they are, how outsidery they've always been, and so on. Sat next to ME. Awesome.
There were a couple of times when this non-faith based initiative's volunteers veered into decidedly religious conversation, mostly about using the Bible as a tool for reading, which makes sense, but then sometimes about sneaking a little faith in on folks "as a structure" for other things. Look, I've watched Mike Holmes, and the structure is what makes everything else work and stand up and look right, so I see what you tried to do there, and I want you to stop it, otherwise harmless man. There was also one extended yogic riff on taking "centering breaths" and I could only think "I wish you'd take your final breath," which misses the point, but he just went on and on.
One of my favorite ideas was on the last night of our training. We were told that we could administer a GED-type test for high school level aptitudes. One of my fellows asserted, as we looked over samples of the test, that she didn't think she would pass this if she took it right now. Another said that she wished this would be given to college students, and if they flunked it, they don't belong in her class, so get out. I said, "I think we should apply that universally. If you don't have the skills to do what you're doing, you have to stop and re-train, and re-test. We should test drivers every year, anyone who owns a gun, and re-certify people on the issues and Constitution before they vote."
This was not as popular an idea as I had hoped (I make friends), even after I named it the SPAT, or Specialized Personal Aptitude Test. Not Achievement, like most of these things are called - just Aptitude. It could be randomized, or called upon by certain events. You could test people on social skills, or Emily Post-type stuff, then demand they go back and figure out how to behave decently when they fail. If you're in a religion, your Holy SPAT could be coming at any time, so don't flap your gums unless you know your shit. Driving's a huge one for me. History. Marketing. Politics. Child Psychology and Development should be pre-requisites for all parents. Or you know, just mix everything up and give it once a year. You don't have to do really well at the SPAT - just demonstrate aptitude. I don't think a lot of folks could even do that.