I first met Matthew nearly twenty years ago. He is the youngest of a family of five, and had been born with “issues” that made him simply not fit the school system.
In fact, although I cannot say I know for sure, I imagine the school would have seen Matthew as unteachable and suspect it may have even made recommendation for home education, in spite of the fact that Matthew was worth a lot of money to them, if you know what I mean.
The first time we drove into the family’s yard, Matthew came bounding up with great enthusiasm to greet us as we got out of the car. Matthew’s walk was different. His talk was different. He looked different. He acted differently from what one would expect from a “normal” child. Matthew was unique.
My wife and I were discussing a passage in the Bible the other day, the one about teachers incurring a stricter judgement (James 3:1). This passage is quite easy to understand. Teachers, all teachers, not just “certificated” ones, will answer for how they behaved, influenced others and for what they taught those who found themselves in their care.
I have always been a bit nervous about this passage, knowing that as a lifelong teacher, I will render an account for how I “affected” or “infected” those who crossed my path.
Indeed, it is fair to say that everyone will be judged on the same basis, but it should also be obvious that one whose calling and career is teaching will have had opportunity to influence many more people and so have more to account for.
I love telling stories! I especially like telling real stories about real people that have happy endings or provide opportunity for learning lessons. As part of the education “industry” for over forty years, I have a lot of them to tell, but this time I am going to focus on a few stories that are very special to me because I was able to help parents of dyslexic children from my inside knowledge as a dyslexic.
I would like to start with a couple stories that involve reading, but before I do, let me share the common advice that I would give parents who were truly concerned about their child’s inability to read when “of age”!
Ready for this? Here goes! I would say “leave them alone!” Or “back off” or “stop telling them there is something wrong with them by your actions and by your words”! I felt for those students, because I am one of them.
Last week, I shared from deep within how I beat the system to succeed in spite of my “learning challenges.” If you have not already seen (heard or read) it, I suggest you go there before proceeding with this blog.
I have had the good fortune of meeting many a dyslexic student. Nathan was special in that his “condition” was rather severe.
This is a classic case of my learning more from the mom than I taught. I simply gave her the freedom to do what she felt was necessary to provide Nathan with the best possible preparation for life.
I realize that this story should likely be in the archives as “ancient history.” After all, it is about an old man’s personal experience in school, many decades ago. However, some things actually don’t change much and if they do, it is not usually for the better.
I share this story with you because I have seen recurring variations on this theme during the many years I have been involved in education and I believe you need to hear this.
I didn’t learn to read when I was “supposed” to. However, I was intelligent enough to be able to fool my teachers into believing I had developed the skill. I was not interested in those silly Dick & Jane primers with pansy names like Spot and Puff for pets. They just did not appeal to me.
I have been a part of the education industry for my entire life. In one capacity or another, I have seen or experienced a great many things most people do not even know exist.
Today, I simply want to share a few stories that are related to the “learning challenged” otherwise known as “special needs” and recently renamed “inclusive education.”
“Special needs” or “inclusive education” is a school based term that is actually code words for “increased funding.” Let me share an incident that occurred shortly before I officially ended my twenty-five year career as a high school teacher.
What is it like to have a “learning challenge”? That should be an easy question to answer. In fact, it is easy because there is no such thing as a standard learner, any more than there is a standard person.
When we consider that it is highly unlikely that anyone can learn everything and in every way, it is fair to say that everyone is challenged when it comes to learning in some way.
As discussed already, the main reason that there are any “learning challenges” is because the school system cannot comprehend that there are folks who cannot learn within its confines. Whenever someone does not fit, he/she is declared a misfit, given a label and medicated if required.
Continue reading “On Being “Learning Challenged”: Learning Challenges (Part 2)”
What do Attention Deficit Disorder, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia and Dyspraxia have in common? Besides the fact that they are complicated words that all start with the letter “D,” they are examples of the many learning disabilities listed in web sites specializing on this subject.
As a bona fide dyslexic who has been involved for over forty years in the education “industry,” I can say that I have had a lot of experience with this topic. I can also honestly state that I have great reservations about how we see and how we manage “learning disabilities.”
Let’s start by looking at how the dictionary defines learning disabilities:
Continue reading “Learning Challenges (Part 1)”
Welcome to this, our sixth year of blogging! That is a lot of blabbing over a long time!
At first the blog was only presented in a text format. I remember sometimes having to quickly compose something the night before as I was not only the writer of the blog, but the manager of everything, as well. Some of you may remember the occasional time when you went to the blog on Monday morning to discover that the “manager” had mismanaged!
But things have changed. Besides the fact that I am obviously six years older than when I began blogging, I now have a team of very competent people helping me write, rewrite, proofread, record, edit, process and upload the final product in text, audio and video formats. I am very thankful for having these professionals working with me.
Continue reading “Introduction to the 2018-19 Academic Year”