Friday, January 20, 2012

Learning "Disabilities" and my thoughts, rants and outrage...

This past week my school hosted a professional development lecture regarding learning disabilities.

I had a lot of questions by the end and actually a lot of frustration.

There are sooo many "disorders" I can't believe what they classify as a disorder these days.  I mean, each child is different so how is that when one child is too different they're classified with a disorder?

I treat each of my students with respect and I allow them to take their times and use their ideas to create art, and while I realize many children are comfortable and happy creating art, some are not.  I don't consider that a disorder, I think it's something I need to address as a teacher and work through but I don't think just because a child is failing, disengaged, resistant to homework fidgeting, frustrated or showing off in my class means they have a disorder.  I think it means there is a poor fit.  I don't understand why if those same things happen in math, reading, science or other class they are red flagged.

I think we need to look at the way we teach.  I think we take ourselves and our society too seriously, maybe the reason these kids are having a hard time in certain areas is because of something called evolution.  Maybe these children are MEANT to be hunters and gathers, maybe they aren't meant to be housed in these four walled hardly windowed rooms... Maybe they should be outside learning with their eyes, ears and hearts.  I think when someone forces a child into a situation they aren't comfortable in many issues arise and I don't think those issues are disorders.  I think those issues are instincts.  I think those instincts should be addressed.

Why does every child need a formal educaiton?  will they not get a good enough job? will they not make enough money? will they not be happy?  I think only the first two are true.  The education system is designed to sustain our society, to create new members who function as the current society needs.  BUT, what if the reason so many children have "disorders" is because a change is in order?  What if these kids are rebelling against this system, this culture?  What if this is a GOOD thing??

I asked the presenter, "About how many kids or people have a learning disability?" She responded, "A Lot."  She mentioned how it could be as much as 50% if you added up all the disabilities or maybe more like 30%.  None of those answers are good enough.  If 50% or more members of a society have a disability is it a disability? or disorder?  or is the norm?  If so many people and children are having such a hard time "learning" maybe we should reconsider what we're teaching.

Maybe we should not be focusing on textbooks and structure, but life.  I watched my daughter stare at the birds yesterday for about an hour.  Observing, comprehending, visualizing, learning all without much guidance.  Kids want to learn, they really do.  But they want to learn on their own terms with their own ideas and thoughts.  Yeah, it takes a hell of a lot more work to guide a child like this, but if we want to embrace self awareness, environmental awareness and any form of spirituality we need to make that effort, both as parents and as educators.

I guess my biggest problem with these disabilities is the need of parents and educators to medicate such children, with with stimulants or depressants.  If a child is defiant {classified as Oppositional Defiant Disorder} they are treated chemically, ie. meds.  This is a new classification within maybe the last 10 or 15 years if not less.  If you or your child rebels against anything, you or your child may be ODD.  And once you have that diagnoses, chemical treatment is the best option.  I just can't accept that.  I can't.  {maybe I'm ODD?}  but really if a child is rebelling against anything for the sake of rebelling, we NEED to figure out why.  What is wrong with us, that would cause a child to react so aggressively?  maybe our culture is breading this aggression, maybe it's the way we're living.  I wish that people would take the time to fix problems or at least attempt problem solving before popping pill or shoving them down their children's throats.

I often wonder in formal education situations like this, what was the rate of Native American learning disabilities?  in a society that was functioning happily and sustainably did the invaders take the time to ask? I think we all know the answer.  But what if that is the answer, what if living a natural, sustainable life and teaching THAT to our children is the answer.  What if that's what could make all the "disabilities" go away?  I wish I could live like that and teach my daughter how to, but I was never educated that way, and now I don't know how.  So, I live this life with this system while searching for alternatives so that she might be able to live happily without this culture and without this toxic society.  It's my goal and life's work.

Will you join me?

Please excuse grammatical errors, I don't edit my rants.


  1. oh my, these are my thoughts exactly!! this is precisely the way of thinking i have been discussing at length with my husband as we start to discuss the practicalities and our visions of having children in the future. the current schooling system failed both my husband (who is legitimately ADHD, but refuses to be medicated - i'm proud of that) and myself (who was well ahead of the curve and began to 'fail' out of sheer boredom and lack of stimulation)and the problems just seem to be getting so much worse. hypermedicating kids and shoving pills down the throats of those with "disorders" can only be doing more harm than good - what new batch of problems is this going to create within the next generation, and the next!!

    good on you for ranting about it, more people should be!

  2. I think the biggest reason why all these disorders and medications for disorders pop up is because we're such an instant gratification society. People think/feel/say "something is wrong with me" or people tell them something is wrong with them and rather than taking the time to dig deep and find out what the issue is (or lack of an issue) some pharmaceutical company comes by and says, "Take this pill and you'll be just like everyone else in one week".