April 24, 2023- The intrepid boy sang his way through five pages of three-digit addition problems, doing two pages, then taking time for his Specials class (Music, of course) and returning to work the rest of the lesson. He hit upon a method, which I’ve seen people use in “Swing Mode”-the approach to working through a given task by using rhythm and movement-that engaged his whole body in accomplishing a task that might otherwise have been seen as drudgery. Indeed, his regular teacher was amazed at the progress, initially crediting me with inspiring the child to work in this manner. In truth, I had nothing to do with it. Whatever unseen influence prompted his motivation, it was a godsend. There are many ways to cast a burden and the way that works best for an individual should be decided by him or her.
Conversely, another child has held onto his issues and setbacks, as if they are a perverse security blanket. This child accomplished little, despite an intellect that is outwardly superior to those of many of his classmates. There are, I am told, concerns with the apathy of his parents, which would certainly raise a red flag. None of us enjoys being ignored, especially by those whom we should expect to trust the most. Getting attention by clutching onto negativity is behind far too many of the issues that bedevil our communities. Then, too, there are all the intrapersonal dynamics that inhibit or dissuade the seemingly oblivious adults, in the life of a troubled child, from taking up their inherent responsibilities.
This was the last day of my assignment, and once again, I was thanked by the team for not charging in and rearranging the system according to my own predilections and whims. I do prefer to let established teams continue with what works, whether the group be a Red Cross operation, a Farmers Market activity or a well-oiled team of educational paraprofessionals. Treating people, of any age, as dignified beings who have a fair idea as to what they are doing, tends to have a good effect on their operation. The mentally ill or abused/neglected tend to need more structured support, and for a longer time than others, but it is still advantageous to note what they are doing successfully and build upon it.
Only by increasing the circle of security, can a person reasonably be led to cast a burden and free the self. That requires attention and discernment.
As I’m sure you know, every kid learns in a different way. Long ago I had a friend who taught 5th grade, and who always had dyslexic students in her classes. First, good for your student who learned to work with rhythm. My friend also told me about a kid who learned to read when she wrote words on his back with her finger (not sure that would be legal these days, but it worked well then!). I’ve also heard of kids learning to add and multiply effectively by fingering grids of dots on a piece of paper (visible or imagined dots), and who have used that technique into adulthood. I think that there has to be a group that simply learns not to learn, for whatever reason and whatever gain for the kid. There is a national teachers’ organization called the Orton Society that works with dyslexia, and shares successes like the above.
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Orton Society has been at it for several years, being one of several organizations which network, nationally and internationally, to advance worldwide intellectual competence.
So many “old school” teachers want the kids to be silent and motionless. Your story points out and supports the varied learning methods that should be encouraged for individual students!! Glad it was a successful assignment (yours and the student)!!
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No one can relate to every student. The team approach, especially with special needs children, is the only way to reach each one, even if some are extremely difficult.