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Enabling a new set of pioneering students story & education stories the australian

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  • 1. 10/31/12 Enabling a new set of pioneering students | Story & Education Stories | The Australian THE AUSTRALIAN Enabling a new set of pioneering students JILL ROWBOTHAM THE AUSTRALIAN OCTOBER 31, 2012 12:00AM Sydney University tutor Fran Keeling, left, w ith student Danielle Gild. Picture: Sam Mooy Source: The Australian FOCUSING on study and coping with crowds of people are the biggest challenges Danielle Gild has faced during her first semester at university, where she is studying Greek and Roman myth. Nothing unusual about that, but Gild is an exceptional student, pioneering a new program for people with intellectual disabilities at the University of Sydney. "The best part about uni is my tutor Fran (Keeling), who has been amazing and is always happy and helping me," Gild says. "She makes me laugh. "Also my cousin Ash, because he helps me and we have a good time together." It adds up to a busy week for Gild, 25, who shuttles between places and activities that include TAFE, art, university and part- time work. Her mother told her about a scheme set up by the universitys chair of disability studies, Patricia OBrien, similar to one shed earlier established at the National Institute for Intellectual Disability at Trinity College, Dublin. Gild is one of five students in Sydney Universitys inclusive education program. The others are studying film, introductory art and maths and finance. "Its opening up a social life (for the students) apart from enabling them to learn things they are interested in . . . previously the chance to sit in university lectures hasnt been open to them," Professor OBrien says. The pilot project had seed funding so staff could be released to work on it. "We are looking for other ways to fund it for next year," Professor OBrien says. Gild says the "hardest part about uni is concentrating for so long and having lots of people around me". With another student in the program, she has attended lectures with 400 others in Alistair Blanshards course, although the pair have had their own tutorial arrangements with doctoral candidate Keeling. Soon they will complete a specially designed test at home. Keeling, who designed the test, says the challenge was "finding a level not too hard or stressful" for the students, "but not patronising them". "I wanted them to learn things, not just to sit in a room," she says. Dr Blanshard says he has found the pilot in the spirit of "what a university should be about and what it should be achieving". "In ancient Greece you lectured in the marketplace and whoever wanted could turn up and hear your ideas. There was no bar according to ability," Dr Blanshard says. Gild wants to return next semester to study human biology.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/…/story-e6frgcjx-1226506893816 1/2
  • 2. 10/31/12 Enabling a new set of pioneering students | Story & Education Stories | The Australiantheaustralian.com.au/higher-education/…/story-e6frgcjx-1226506893816 2/2