Tuesday, May 28, 2013

skewing the bell curve...

Color added by me, but the drawing is my student's.
I wish that all parents could afford to send their children to schools that will give them the time and attention to learn. To find ways to accomplish their dreams.  Instead, many are forced to put them into public schools and the small boxes required by state governments that determine what is or is not acceptable intelligence.

The picture on the left was drawn by an 8th grade autism student. 
Look at the detail of at least twelve different flower species!

This thank you note written by the same student after a sex ed presentation:

"Dear Mr. S,
I appreciate you teaching me about 'unmentionable' things.  And taking the time to painsteakingly quiet down the class.  I have learned something also, parts of which I already knew, I thank you for teaching us.  I know how hard it was to teach an entire class of snickering eighth grade kids.  You have demonstrated good, and you made it fun.  If you make it fun and they'll learn.  The only thing I didn't like wuz the write sheet you gave us.  I liked the little plays you did with the class.  I've tried the book work instead of the class, I gotta tell you it wuz hard!  I really appreciate the time you took for us.  I enjoyed 97% of the class.  The 3% is the homework and videos.  The freedom one eighty was a heck of alot less boring than regular science.
Thank you sincerely from XX"

His handwriting is very tiny and in the corner of the paper he drew a small triangle with a magnifying glass inside and a note that said "magnifying glass needed."

In his thank you note, he pointed out something very important that I think all teachers, school administrators, and those governmental organizations that determine who is or is not "smart" should pay attention to very closely:

"If you make it fun, they'll learn."

I found when I was teaching that learning must involve as many of the senses as possible in order for the brain to really grasp a concept.  Their eyes to read, their ears to hear, and their hands to feel or write are givens in most classrooms.  But what if you added something to smell and taste?  Even more important, if you add laughter, if you add the emotional sense of happiness, if you take advantage of that sixth sense of our emotions ... wouldn't we have students who learned better?

When we touch something that is hot, we "learn" not to touch it again.  Not just because it "felt" hot, but because it caused pain.  An emotion.  A feeling more than just the five senses, pain involves the brain telling the rest of the body that it really didn't like that very much.

This is a student who struggles with math, history, science, and language arts ... at least according the the set standards by the state and school districts.  In his thank you note, he has a grasp of language and while there were some mistakes and slang, nothing that couldn't be relearned.  He even had accurate math thrown in there with his percentages.  But because he doesn't measure up to all of their statistics, he will always be just outside of their box.

Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.  All of the greatest thinkers, inventors, and artists have always thought outside of the box.

If students had teachers who made learning fun, who took the time to find out what they needed to learn ... if they found the right key to unlock the door to their worlds ...
Think of all the things they could accomplish!

1 comment:

  1. And if we valued people for who they are, not who we feel they should be...


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