Those with special needs kids, and especially those of us with Autistic kids, know that our kids are always somehow those kids who are singled out, excluded, chastised, punished…we cringe when the school rings our phone.
We are sooo used to the way things are, that we’ve ceased to question them. We’ve accepted that our kids will always be the “failures,” constantly always “falling behind” the norm or standard…always needing help, and punished for their failures.
It’s no wonder to me that the average life expectancy of a child diagnosed as autistic is an unnaturally short, age 36…given that paradigm to live in, I’d want to hop off this crazy planet too.
“For ‘normal’ is what we call the unchallenged collective of a filtered and pre-constituted life.” By Kevin Avison, A Handbook for Steiner-Waldorf Class Teachers
That’s the cool part of “perspective”….if the perspective, aka window, you are looking through doesn’t work for you…simply look at it through a different window, or perspective. Change your perspective, change your whole experience of things.
What better way to do that than, as Socrates suggests, ask the simple question of: How Do Schools Make Failure Possible?
See, children are born…and they grow, and through forces alive within them, they learn. They learn even if you do nothing. You literally cannot stop them from learning. Children are wired to learn….hungry and driven to learn. Not-learning is not-possible when it comes to how children are created and brought into this world. Thus, in the realm of the child…failure to learn is literally not-possible.
Thus, you’d have to be pretty darn bad at what you are doing to shut down that innate unborn desire in children. And yet, schools do it all the time with stunning regularity…and we’ve come to accept that as “normal.” And, again, we have ceased to question it.
Even just creating an expectation, for example: preschoolers will come in here and sit in these desks and be drilled on the alphabet for 20 minutes….is rife with ways typical preschoolers will now “fail” to meet that expectation. I remember being sooo stunningly shocked when the school first was going to assess my granddaughter at 18 months old, at how they actually literally expected her to sit in a chair and attend to them for 3 hours!!! I was like, for all your college, all your training, all your work with actual living breathing children….even the fact that you are parents yourselves….and THIS you “expect”?!
I’m sorry, but normal, natural 18 month old human children do not, by nature, sit at desks…they just don’t. The creation of this expectation, set the stage where the only possibility available, was that she failed. They created her failure. And sadly, she was intimately aware she failed to meet their expectations and it subsequently took many years and many kindly providers who were willing to help her work to overcome it.
Although it’s been wiped from Google now, someone once said: “let us never be so certain of our ways that we cease to question them.” Indeed, I believe there is great danger of our undoing when we stop questioning how we do things. Perhaps, up until now we just accepted this without question. However, somewhere about now, we question, how is it schools make it possible for children to fail to learn, when the child’s own innate inborn wiring made it not-possible to not learn?
For one, schools set a standard. Out of nowhere they draw a metaphorical line in the ethers….those who meet this line, are good, worthy. Those who do not, “fail.” You’re a failure as a child.
Whereas a reasonable person would see that the standards one set were at fault, and simply change their expectations, as Mother Theresa so eloquently says: “people are unreasonable, illogical…”, and thus do not see.