Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Inspired by my favorite non-linear thinker

This morning, my 21 year old son told me he really wanted me to see these... he said I should show these to all the teachers I work with in Salem. After I watched them, I was very moved by his request and so I wanted to share them here on my blog.
I think this one is actually a wonderful support for workshop model for learning - a model which always includes choice, time, collaboration, authentic response and authentic purposes for reading/writing and learning:

and this one, which I think reminds us to keep thinking about what and how we teach and what and how students learn:

To put my son Eric's request in context, you should know that he was born with a cranial facial birth defect, has had innumerable hospitalizations and reconstructive surgeries and still has a tracheotomy for breathing. He is brilliant, funny and very musical. He is a voracious reader. He is a non-linear thinker, and is incredibly creative. He scores nearly perfectly on all standardized tests. He even scored a 5 on the AP calculus test although he was not allowed to take AP calc in high school - he just had one wonderful math teacher who advocated for him, gave him the book and told him to read it and take the test. And then she made sure when he graduated he got the a new award that they made just for him ... "the theoretical math" award.

Eric never did well in school as measured by grades, and he was identified as LD because of executive function disorder/ADD- he wanted to drop out when he was a junior. He was frequently called "unmotivated" despite the fact that people knew he was dealing with a chronic medical condition. A school psychologist once told me, "Jennie, sometimes we have to give up on the dreams we have for our children." His young and cool g 6th grade teacher said in an IEP meeting - "This kid is never going to make it in life. He needs a one-on-one aid just to get through the day" (which he did not have, nor did he need.)

In high school, his math teacher told me that "he doesn't belong in an honors class until he can learn how to keep a neat and organized binder." I finally just gave up and when I cried at graduation, it was because I was so relieved that is was finally over. But I haven't forgotten any of this, and Eric has helped me to keep thinking about what it really means to be a "highly qualified" teacher!

 p.s. Eric is doing well at Pace University in Manhattan...  he had the courage and the stamina to persevere and believe in himself, despite the medical and educational struggles he's been through.

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