21st education is all about providing tools and creating environments that allow a wide variety of learners to thrive. We're inspired by educators who embrace this as part of their mission and their everyday practices, and were delighted to hear Genevieve Clay-Smith speak at this year's TIFF Kids Industry Forum. Genevieve, an award-winning filmmaker, has created a unique program to engage diverse learners through her industry.
Tell us about the program that you’ve created.
I've created an accessible film studies program that is aimed at people with an intellectual disability, people who find access to tertiary education difficult due to chronic and persistent mental health issues and those with low literacy and English skills. The film studies program is guided by a curriculum. It has 16 modules, all of which are film studies topics that have a practical side as well (can't study films without making films!) As well as teaching people about film, we also aim to increase the capacity of out students and through the program we also build the students work ready skills, social skills, English and literacy skills, critical thinking skills and more.
What does the term “inclusive education” mean to you?
Inclusive education for me means giving people equitable access to education and ensuring that the education is delivered in an accessible way, catering for all learning types, levels and speeds. Many of our community members with an intellectual disability don't get to participate in University because we don't have a tertiary education system that believes ongoing learning for people with ID is necessary. I think it's one of the most fundamentally important things to provide for people with ID, specifically school leavers; to help them develop themselves further, learn more about what they're capable of and what they might like to do for work. We also have a tertiary education system that is not set up to deliver education in a way that is accessible - content needs to be broken down for people with ID and speed of teaching needs to be moderated. So for me, inclusive education means making adjustments so that all people can have access to education should they want it.
In your experience, what kind of learning environment is necessary for an inclusive program to thrive?
One thing - high expectations. Believe your student can do it, don't give up on them even if they give up on themselves and understand that they can reach their full potential in your class room if you're willing to have the patience to see them through.
What’s on your educator’s wish list? If you could snap your fingers and have more or different resources at your disposal, what else would you include?
I would love some more video content for some of our subjects. That would be great!
What’s next for your teachers and learners?
We are working on a module to teach our students VR!
Genevieve is Australia’s foremost globally innovative, inclusive filmmaker leading the way in making the film industry accessible and inclusive for all.She’s an award-winning writer and director, with work showcased internationally at various Oscar qualifying film festivals and at the United Nations. She is the co-founder and CEO of Bus Stop Films, a not for profit organisation dedicated to increasing the English skills, living skills and work ready skills of marginalized community members, in particularly those with an intellectual disability through film studies. She is also the Co-founder and Creative Director of Taste Creative a boutique creative agency with a niche focus on developing culture-shifting diversity campaigns to help organisations foster a more inclusive workforce.