When I was young, people in wheelchairs were who I thought of when I considered disabled. I think it was in the 70s that the Rehabilitation Act pushed forward the accessibility laws and cities had to give curbs an overhaul and make the sidewalks accessible from the road for people in wheelchairs. With this minor change, the public found that not only was it a benefit for the wheelchair bound individuals, but it also helped countless other people to roll off the streets. I had already learned to hop my bike up curbs, but I doubt I’d have gotten so good with a stroller.
This peripheral benefit to the population is the same thing I’ve been pushing for education at times. We already know that some people learn better through auditory methods or better if they have notes ahead of time, and we also have learned that giving students who don’t need them these “perks” doesn’t significantly improve their learning, so then why do we see schools requiring an IEP in order to receive this “special treatment?” Why not give every student the best possibility of success?
In the 90s I read about a rock climber who was disqualified from competing because his prosthetic gave him an “unfair advantage” and it really got me starting to think more about this idea of disabilities and what it really could be. I don’t think it was Hugh Herr who was disqualified, but it he has pushed the concept certainly. I saw a TED talk with him a while back, and I think he also sees more than just physical prosthetics as possible.
I’m a fan of Sir Ken Robinson, so when I first saw Changing Education Paradigms I was thrilled. I feel we do have to change the way we educate our children. Looking at our blog and reading about how so many kids are getting the benefit of homeschooling makes me feel even more strongly that schools need to change. We can try to say that schools are only missing the kids on the fringe, those who are gifted and those who are LD, but I think there is a lot more to it. Especially when we start getting into 2E and those who fall out side on both ends.
I can understand why random people on the streets don’t understand the concept of 2E, especially after watching a few Jay Leno clips of Jaywalking, but school administrators and teachers should really know better. …School officials should also understand that intelligence has nothing to do with learning disabilities as well, but I guess that’s not the case either.
Alright, so I’ve rambled on and on without putting a cute little bow on this post, so let’s go with this:
Our education system is failing to meet the needs of the 2E community. It’s failing miserably, and these are the kids who see the world differently and will see the world differently as adults as well, and who come up with creative solutions than nobody else could. Who better to encourage and educate?
We currently have the stigma that if you receive special treatment in school, you’re less of a student. I had an instructor in college who told me directly that he did not feel if I received extended time on my test, that I should even be in college because I didn’t “belong” in college, but he would give me the extended time because he was forced to by law. In an earlier post I said we needed to understand the differences and distinct aptitudes, and build on strengths. Rather than just looking at how to work on the problem though, we really need to address the social aspects of being different. Why can’t we make school a safe haven for learning for ALL students by changing school?
Just as we became tolerant of wheelchair abled individuals and learned how more alike we all are, we made the world a better place. As we begin to understand the contributions each person can make by seeing the world differently and seeing numerous possible solutions we improve the world again. These differences need to be welcomed as close to “normal” as possible to include people who see the world in different ways, and until then we will segregate and ostersise kids who should be included. I’m 100% against hegemony of education and if it takes an education revolution to get things right, in the words of Thomas Jeferson, “I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”