Monday, April 18, 2011

a really long post in which I ramble on and on

Soaking wet!

I prefer to wear bare feet. But I don’t feel the need to make sure that everyone sees the benefit of bare feet. (You know, the simplicity and joy that comes from feeling the grass beneath your feet among other things that I don’t have the time to think of at this moment to try and prove my point.) No, and I can’t imagine going a step further and enforcing that feet go bare in certain places at certain times and then think of a consequence when someone wears shoes. (That would be a lot of work and leave me less time to enjoy walking around in my bare feet!)

A silly example, but I’m trying to make a point. The people who make the official rules and regulations of society are usually a certain kind of person. They mean well and want things to run smoothly and have order. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that usually these people are not people who have ADD.

Just because someone thinks that a certain way is the right way, doesn’t mean that every other way is the wrong way.

People with ADD usually don’t have the tendency to enforce things on others. They are usually working hard to maintain and balance their lives. “The System” doesn’t come naturally to someone who has ADD to begin with and as things become more and more regulated, it becomes harder to break through the system and make changes that would benefit them. It’s like it goes directly against the nature of one with ADD, but if we don’t do it, then who will?

It is hard to imagine thinking in a way that seems foreign to us. We can’t know what it feels like to have someone else’s brain. But it seems like there are enough studies out there that can help us understand different ways to learn and different ways to teach. There is not just one right way, but right now there is only one way in action which could be why there are so many kids on medication.

If there is a group of people who can prove that they have learned specific content by taking a written test that needs to be finished within a certain amount of time, that doesn’t mean that testing someone orally is wrong.

I remember when I was in middle school I had undergone a lot of different testing to try to figure out what was going on with me. We knew I was smart, but we didn’t know why I didn’t look smart on paper. I didn’t have a name for it until college: ADD/I.

My middle school put me in this really ridiculous reading class that was a complete waist of time and they put me in a math class that was far below my skill level. I didn’t understand why they were putting me in classes that didn’t challenge me at all. I was frustrated and bored and felt misunderstood. Looking back as an adult, I can see clearly what was going on, but when I was younger I didn’t know how to express it. So I acted out. I decided if they didn’t care, then I didn’t care. I started skipping class and not doing my homework. I would hang out with my boyfriend and then walk into class 20 minutes late. I remember that my desk was on the far side of the classroom and I walked in and made a big commotion, interrupting the teacher’s lesson and then climbed up on a desk and walked across the tops of the desks over to my seat and sat down and got my stuff out. He wasn’t the best teacher, obviously, because when I was seated he just continued on like I hadn’t done something rude, so I half listened while I drew on my desk.

I knew the math. I knew the math even when I missed half of class and I knew the math without doing my homework. What would it have taken for the school to find a way for me to prove that I knew the math? What would it have taken to find out what I knew and figure out a way to challenge me so that I would actually be interested? Because that’s the big key for ADD: interest. It’s not as hard to concentrate on something when you are interested in it.

So here’s the question: What could we change in public schools to make it more learning friendly for all kinds of brains? I am wondering if there is a way to balance it and make it better all around without decreasing the efficiency. Are the only choices a parent has for their children with ADD 1: medication, 2: home school, or 3: allowing them to struggle through feeling like a failure?

To see the previous discussion about ADD, click here.


katie.johnson said...

you are such an amazing person! i'm not one to pick favorites, but if i did... i'd have to say your blog is my very favorite to follow. you are truly inspiring!

brittany said...

wow. Thanks!

xianfern said...

I love ADD/I. That's me too..

Krista said...

I don't have ADD (you know, because mom tested us all...) but sometimes I feel like maybe they just missed it? Because I get this. I get what you are saying. And I have to laugh at the desk stomping incident because that is SO not you. And I am mad at authority and "those" people today, because "those" people who are in charge of my HOA told me I can't have my chickens anymore. Are you freaking kidding me people??? Get a life.

the wrath of khandrea said...

my answer? cooperative learning and multiple intelligence theory. have you heard of it? the 8 different "intelligences" that people connect to? (verbal, mathematical, linguistic, kinesthetic, etc.) teachers who implement their instruction around these intelligences are better able to meet those diverse needs of their students. it's not that hard... it requires a simple training and a willingess to try new things (i realize THAT is a joke in much of public education). for real though, look into it, and ask your kids' teachers about it. it makes a huge difference. there's a great study on it by spencer kagan... google it.

the wrath of khandrea said...

here's a quick youtube link, which is faster and easier for getting a basic idea:

this link relates specifically to 2nd language learning, but you can at least get an idea of what i'm talking about.

the wrath of khandrea said...

because i talk too much, i'm going to say a little more.

if you are feeling like this might be a daunting thing to present to the teachers, or feel like you might be met with some resistance, maybe you could make a little list of things you feel relate to your child, and then offer a few ideas. for example, "my daughter really learns best through kinesthetic and musical approaches. i was looking around for some simple ideas, and was wondering if you might be willing to try some of these: finger spelling (sign language) the spelling words; having the option to write a song as a summary of a story; clap rhythms when learning vocab definitions in science; etc.
the key is they don't have to restructure their approaches, they just need to offer a few more options as PART OF their instruction. EVERY monday we finger spell the spelling words as part of what we do. EVERY tuesday we chant/rap the spelling words. EVERY wednesday we body spell the spelling words. you get the idea? instead of every day, we write them 4 times each, and fill out a worksheet about them, you open up avenues of learning for people who are NOT pencil/paper learners. also, an added benefit is that if you have students in the class who are NOT musical or kinesthetic, you are actually STRENGTHENING those skills in them while building the talents of the kids who ARE like that.

brittany said...

that is incredible! Thank you, Andrea! So when and where are these skills taught to people who are in education? Would the typical teacher know about this and understand it enough to start implimenting it into thier teaching?

It's so crazy that there is so much information like this out there and it's not being utilized.

Just from watching that video I am excited to start trying to include more teaching styles into my lessons in primary. I will definately be researching it more.


brittany said...

and Krista, that is so lame about your chickens. give me a break. maybe you should give everyone some pretty blue eggs and they will see the beauty in it?

seriously annoying.

Kara said...

I can't believe you ditched school to hang out with your said you were in middle school, right? You scare me.

Merrilee said...

I have 8 ADHD and 2 ADD diagnosed kids in my Kindergarten class this year! Some are on meds but most are not. Sure it would be easier to get them all to conform and learn in the same manner, but that is BORING for this teacher! Kinder is an easy place to impliment all kinds of learning. It is a lot of work, but a committed teacher will try anything to connect with their students to help them achieve. I am proud to be a public school teacher and search for creative ways to help all students learn. Hopefully your teachers will respond to the challenge.

brittany said...

holy cow! 10 kids already diagnosed in kindergarten? How many kids do you have in class?? That's pretty astounding.

And I really hope that I haven't sounded like I'm coming down on public school teachers. I have a deep respect for teachers in general and I especially love teachers that are passionate about what they do. I bet you are one of the best!

It can be a scary thing to send your little people off to school and put them into someone else's hands. It helps so incredibly much to know that they are in a safe place. But it's so much worse when it's not working. It is scary to watch your child spiral downward and not know how to help.

the wrath of khandrea said...

britt... these "8 intelligences" are generally touched on in most education programs, just as a means of introducing the concept. a lot of people feel intimidated because when the "program" first came out, it wasn't presented quite right. teachers were made to feel like they had to reinvent the wheel, start from scratch, and figure out how to teach each student based on their individual intelligences. THAT is overwhelming. there was a shift, or a rethinking of how it would best work, and that's where it's at now... to me, it just makes sense. if you teach one static way, you will not successfully teach all your students. but if you tap dance all over the place trying to tailor instruction for each student, you will burn yourself out. this approach simply allows you to add variety to your instruction in a way that will benefit the most amount of students possible. there is actually formal training for it, but i think even if someone just familiarizes themselves with it, they can benefit.