Invisible Barriers to Learning

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Invisible Barriers to Learning by Mind Map: Invisible Barriers to Learning

1. Stigma surrounding Mental Illness

1.1. Students with mental health issues can feel unwilling or unable to share their issues with school staff and peers because of the stigma associated with mental illness. Solutions:

1.1.1. school-level or board-level "STOP THE STIGMA campaigns can help students see that many people deal with mental health issues, and that talking about it is a positive thing!

1.1.2. actively promoting mental well-being in schools

1.1.3. train teachers to look for signs of mental health concerns in students - guidance and special education can guide those conversations when necessary

1.1.4. Fund mental-health programs, supports, experts, etc. Without people to help those with mental health concerns, it's unlikely that many will be able to deal with their issues on their own.

2. Poverty

2.1. Students living in low-income situations often have food-insecurity, limited access to technology, limited space and resources with which to do school work at home. Solutions:

2.1.1. Before-and-after school programs for homework help

2.1.2. Breakfast and lunch programs

2.1.3. Technology-leveling programs such as laptop or tablet loaners, subsidized internet, class sets of computers when possible, give

2.1.4. Schools can subsidize trips and extra-curricular activities for students (this works well when offered to ALL students, not specific ones)

3. Systemic Racism and Discrimination

3.1. Students that experience racism and discrimination can easily become unmotivated, and lose their sense of agency and purpose - in particular if they feel the system is rigged against them. Solutions:

3.1.1. Purposeful anti-racist behaviour by school staff - confront racism and discrimination immediately

3.1.2. Anti-racist curriculum in specific subject areas (English, Civics, History are obvious choices but Science and Math can easily work too with some research)

3.1.3. Regularly expose students to a variety of viewpoints, from people of different cultures, countries, skin colours, etc.

3.1.4. Force students to confront their own biases using online tools such as Project Implicit (

3.1.5. (just a note - I am very aware that systemic racism has been around for a LONG time, and the chance of these solutions working quickly is low. But, every little bit helps - fight the fights that need fighting!)