Safeguarding the future conference - Canberra, 23-24 May 2024

Try Another Way

This video shows the early research and work of Marc Gold. He explains the Systematic Instruction approach and explains how it can be used to counteract the low-quality assumptions people tend to make about the capabilities of people with intellectual disability.

During the 1970s, Marc Gold travelled around North America and conducted three-day workshops on a revolutionary training approach called Try Another Way. This system offered a clear structure, instructional techniques, and principles to teach individuals with severe disabilities to master complex skills and tasks.

This video, recorded in the 1970s, gives an overview of what was then a revolutionary system of teaching skills to people with disability – skills that would provide them with employment.

The wisdom of the time had extremely low expectations of the abilities of people with disability, and so many people lived in institutions without access to meaningful – or any – employment.

But, as Marc Gold says at the beginning of the video,

The behaviours our children show  are a reflection of our incompetence, not theirs.

In this video, you’ll see Marc teaching several people with intellectual disability how to assemble a bicycle brake. It’s a complex task but completely teachable with the right approach.

Marc explains his research in the following way,

Since 1967, when we began this research, it has had a major impact on the development of my philosophy and on the techniques that have been generated from our research. Its principle impact has been to point out the discrepancy between what people think are the capabilities of the severely handicapped, the mild and severely and profoundly retarded, and what they’re really capable of doing.

The hundreds of people that we’ve trained in this task almost 100% of the time have learned quickly and efficiently to do this. If they can learn to do this task (building bicycle brakes), this task which, in and of itself, means nothing at all, certainly many of the things that we have kept from them, complicated things to learn, we think, many of those things are things that they would learn: things that would allow them to join us as thoroughly participating members of society.

As you watch this video, keep in mind that the language used to describe people with intellectual disability is very different and may be quite confronting to hear. But the underlying technique and philosophy of Try Another Way are just as relevant today as they were in the 1970s.