28 June 2006

Why school sucks

I was always a good student. Two out of three Rs - Reading and 'Riting (oh please) - were so easy for me that I don't remember having to learn to do them. They just came naturally. And math wasn't a problem, either, at least not until I got to quadratic equations in high school.

For my brother and my mom, it wasn't as pleasant. They both have the types of learning disabilities that make reading difficult. As a result, they came out of school feeling like stupid failures. It kills me that they came out of school worse off than they went in.

Neither of them are unskilled, however. My mom has incredible people skills. She could have done anything in sales, teaching or social work - any people-intensive profession. She chose to stay home and raise five amazing children (ahem).

My brother has stellar hand-eye coordination and artistic abilities. He is also just a damn fine, decent human being - the kind of guy who you would trust with your car, your wife, your only child. He has a great job, a beautiful wife of over 25 years, a lovely home, 2 fine daughters and 6 perfect grandchildren.

About 10 years ago, I dated a guy who owned a machine shop. He made beautiful, clever parts for aircraft and for miscellaneous machines. He needed an assistant and pressed me into service.

I could not do the job. I have a learning disability that not only prevents me from telling left from right, but keeps me from being able to tell when a part is in a machine upside down or rightside up. After I screwed up about 1000 parts, he realized I was unteachable, a failure.

I wonder how different my life and self-image would be if elementary school was all about building things and dealing with shapes rather than reading, writing and math.

I'm no more intelligent than my brother or mother. I just have a type of intelligence that is well-rewarded in school, and they don't. I got lucky on that one.

Please remember this story the next time you're worried about how your kid is doing in school. They may not have school skills. And they may do ok in life in spite of it all.

Linkateria is jammed full of linky goodness today. Photos of mad cats, immaturity explained, and of course a dash of Bush-bashing to make the whole thing complete and perfect.


super des said...

my stepdad was the least intelligent person I've ever met. But he could fix cars.

I like to think that I am blessed with both types of smart-making: I can read and whatnot, and I can do things with my hands (not everyone can make jewelry out of tiny beads and wire!).

Anonymous said...

My family is just like yours, so many different kinds of smart (and some honest to God stupid). What always got me riled up was that even diagnosed with a learning disability that made math and the like near impossible, once I took them out of the picture I was able to get straight As. All because I rock at bullshit!

Anonymous said...

I had a student that couldn't read "the." We sang songs about "the," made cookies that looked like "the," drew "the" in the sand, and chalked a giant "the" on the playground.

Then I'd point to a "the" and say, "What's this?"

He was as likely to say "cat" as "the."

But if I moved something within my classroom, he turned into Rain Man. He'd walk into the room, see the room in its entirety (as quick as a blink), and say, "Why'd you move that?"

I suspected deeply different cognition, so I disassembled a fishing reel. There were about 30 parts. He did not see me do this.

And I said, "Put it together."

And he did, like a Marine assembling his rifle.

So, I concluded that we are all idiots here and geniuses there...and I haven't discovered any contrary data.

Wait a sec. I forgot about Paul: he was an idiot here and there.

Wait a double sec. He dated me, so he did have a streak of genius.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Chantal, I rock at bullshit. We might be twins separated at birth.

super des said...

As one who holds a degree in literature, I also rock at bullshit.

Anonymous said...

I am a teacher and boy do I LOVE this post. I wish that we had other things to grade students in than the R's.

I also think that it gives booksmart people a false sense of intelligence. I whizzed through school and college,,, but I cried 3 weeks ago when I had to put together my twins' potty chairs. I JUST don't think like that.

My husband DOES think like that though. Thank GOD!! If anything ever happens to him I will be buying pre-put together floor models of everything.

Anonymous said...

Des, then that might make us triplets separated at birth.

Laura, I know of what you speak. A friend and I were trying to assemble something...can't remember what...and after an hour of monkey poking here and there, I just reacted as the underpowered monkey that I can be: I started howling and jumping up and down and pounding the floor. My friend laughed until she cried.

Suzanne said...

Despite your supposed lack of handyness, you hit the nail right on the head with that post.

super des said...

p.s. what does the 3rd R stabd for?

SUEB0B said...

Uh, Des, that would be ummmm "rithmetic". Makes perfect sense to me, too.

Anonymous said...

Does your learning disability have a name? I'm curious because Nathan was just diagnosed with Dysgraphia, an inability to process math. He can add simple numbers, but doesn't understand comparisons, ordinals, money, before/after, or sequencing. I am very grateful that it was caught early and that his school is offering him tons of support.

Anonymous said...

I've always felt that school was so one-wayish. People are not made from cookie cutters. I wish they get that already...

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