Tue May 22, 2012, 01:54 PM
tblue37 (23,026 posts)
I am tblue37. I had to become tblue37 (or at least tblue something), because DU already had a longtime member named tblue. Whenever we see each other on DU, we always greet each other thus: “Hi, Cuz!” But we are not actually related and do not actually even know each other.
I teach college English. My grammar and usage website, which has won me millions of readers worldwide, is just one of 10 sites where I post my articles and essays about all sorts of topics that interest me, including ADD/ADHD (and sometimes other learning differences), deafness/hearing loss, parenting and children’s needs, poetry, teaching, and essay-writing. I also have a site (Out of the Blue) where I post articles that don’t fit the topics of my other 9 sites, one where I post funny true animal stories, and one where I post funny true stories about children. Since in addition to teaching college I also ran a home daycare for 18 years (while my own two kids were minors), I have many such anecdotes!
I have been posting on DU since June of 2004, having followed a link from The Smirking Chimp to a DU post by H2Oman, who continues to be one of the DU members whose posts I value most highly. I quickly abandoned The Smirking Chimp for DU, because I much prefer the openness and ease of use here. I have tried The Daily Kos and a few other sites, but DU just works better for me. The others seem too complicated to navigate or participate in, though I do sometimes visit them to read interesting posts.
Every now and then I post a link here to one of my own articles—usually one on my Teacher, Teacher site—when the topic seems relevant to a particular discussion I am participating in on DU.
The home page of each of my 10 sites has links to all of my other sites, and each site has its own article index. I write about many different topics that DU members would probably find interesting. (I have about 450 articles posted across my 10 sites.) Perhaps some of you would enjoy scanning my article index pages and reading a few of my essays. I have been told by readers that my essays are like potato chips—once they start reading an article on one of my sites, they end up staying up far too late reading one after another after another.
18 replies, 5059 views
O hai— (Original post)
Response to Skinner (Reply #4)
Wed May 23, 2012, 06:38 PM
tblue37 (23,026 posts)
6. I thought it might be too much self-promotion.
I figured that if anyone felt interested, they could google one of my sites by name (since I did name a couple, and the home page of each site has links to all of the other ones).
Here are links for those who want them:
Response to tblue37 (Reply #6)
Wed May 23, 2012, 09:22 PM
zeemike (18,998 posts)
7. thank you for those links.
and you have every right to promote yourself if you have a body of work like that...
I am interested in reading the ADD and poetry ones...
Response to tblue37 (Reply #8)
Thu May 24, 2012, 08:30 AM
zeemike (18,998 posts)
9. I read two in ADD last night.
And was impressed with your understanding and approach to it...very good explanation of your take on the subject.
I have interest in that because I was one of those slow kids myself...and over the years I have learned that it had nothing to do with intelligence...but everything to do with how we learn.
And I wanted to run this story by you anyway....I had a long time girlfriend that taught second grade...and she was really good at teaching slow kids...and the school was more than willing to dump them on her...but you know how kids make their D's and B's backward...she had a trick she used ...she would draw the d on their back as they wrote it...and it worked....her theory was that she taught them through the sense of feel.
Response to zeemike (Reply #9)
Thu May 24, 2012, 02:17 PM
tblue37 (23,026 posts)
10. Actually, “slow” is absolutely NOT an appropriate description of kids with ADD,
and certainly not of kids with ADHD (who operate at the speed of light!).
ADD, ADHD and other learning “differences” are often associated with a high level of giftedness. Often the very brightest kids in a school have ADD or ADHD!
I have ADHD, as do both of my (brilliantly successful) adult children. My daughter, who was a high school valedictorian with a 4.0 GPA and who received a full scholarship and took both general honors and biology honors as an undergrad (also with a 4.0 GPA) while majoring in biology and minoring in math and chemistry, was a Fulbright Fellow and is a doctor who is finishing up her second residency, so she will be double board-certified soon.
My son, who also received hefty college scholarships, has his BA in Spanish and international studies. He did get one “B” as an undergrad, but otherwise had a straight-A average. He also has a master’s in business, and he has completed part of another master’s degree at Georgetown (which, by the way, is where my daughter went to med school). He is fluent in Spanish and speaks two other foreign languages as well, though not yet as fluently as he speaks Spanish. (I also did extraordinarily well in public school, college, and graduate school.)
I will insist that neither I nor my kids are “slow,” nor are most of the other people I encounter who have ADD, ADHD or any other learning differences. The problem for some of those kids (though not all, as our success in school indicates) is that they have different learning processes and needs, and the one-size-fits-all approach our schools take to mass education simply doesn’t play to their learning needs.
Your girlfriend’s approach worked with that student because some students’ learning strategies involve tactile or kinetic translation and assimilation of information. (Another difference that could be taken into account in teaching some students is that some are primarily auditory learners. Another is that some are simply not able to sit still for long periods of time.)
Keep in mind that our brains did not evolve to read or write.
Having existed for only about 5,000 years, written language is a very new development for human beings. That means that unlike for walking, speaking, or other things that come naturally and pretty much automatically to us, we have not yet had time to evolve brain structures for reading and writing, so we have to harness brain structures that evolved for other purposes to do those reading and writing jobs. That being the case, it requires a huge amount of appropriate instruction and practice at the early stages to learn how to read and write and then to make reading and writing automatic.
Certainly some people will have a somewhat stronger innate aptitude for reading and writing than others, just as some will have a stronger aptitude for math, music, painting, learning foreign languages, or other complex activities. But students who have different learning requirements need individualized instructional and practice approaches (and often more time) during the early stages of learning how to accomplish these alien activities that our brains were not evolve to accomplish (i.e., reading and writing).
When the approaches used for them are inappropriate, not only do they lose precious time in learning these essential skills, but they also build up psychological obstacles to learning them at all.
If a student needs more time and specialized instruction to learn to read and write, but the mass-educational system demands that he hurry through the process on the same schedule as every other student, using the exact same methods, and if he faces constant feedback from his teachers and peers that makes him feel inferior, even hopeless, then pretty soon he will internalize the idea that he simply cannot learn to read and write, so instead of practicing more to overcome his difficulties, he will evolve avoidance behaviors. Thus he reads and writes less and less and less, compounding the problem over time. Meanwhile, since reading and writing are the keys to further learning, he also falls behind in other subjects, and soon education in its entirety becomes a hateful, hopeless thing for him, and he gives up altogether.
Your reference to students with ADD as being “slow” just illustrates my point—that the system unfairly labels such kids and sets them up for a lifetime of failure and self-criticism. And your heartrbeaking remark that you were yourself just such a "slow" kid illustrates my point that such students end up internalizing that horribly false view of themselves as being somehow less competent ("slower") than other students. Your intellectual abilities were not the problem. The problem was that you were stuck in an educational system that could not accommodate your optimal learning strategies!
I often tutor students with learning differences who have run into diffculties in school, and I can assure you that they are as bright as any other students--and with appropriate instruction, they end up learning just as well!
Response to tblue37 (Reply #10)
Thu May 24, 2012, 03:13 PM
zeemike (18,998 posts)
11. Well I never really thought I was ADD or ADHD
Actually I think I am dyslexic...
I had to repeat second grade because I was not learning how to read...I could do math just fine and in fact my sister taught me how to do Multiplication and division....but reading I just did not get what they were trying to teach me.
But my second time through second grade I had a teacher ...Mrs Batten...funy she is the only one I can remember....she taught me how to read...and I have no idea at all how she did it...perhaps I was just ready....and once I could read I became a voracious reader...I read many books on subjects I liked and to be honest I taught myself mostly in science...and mostly way beyond my years...I have excellent reading comprehension but I am terrible at spelling...So I am saying I know full well I am not a dummy and not slow at all...but I was slower to learn to read than others but when I finally did learn it it served me well.
Another thing I learned from this girlfriend is that I am a whole to part learner...as opposed to a part to whole as most teachers teach...the easy way for me to learn is to first understand the concept then the parts fall right into place.
But thanks so much for this interesting post...it was very helpful and I will read more of your stuff...tonight I will try Poetry which I love and have written some of myself.
And you sound like a wonderful person with a great passion to help people...
Response to zeemike (Reply #11)
Fri May 25, 2012, 12:29 AM
tblue37 (23,026 posts)
13. We make kids start school at a certain age,
Last edited Tue May 29, 2012, 12:01 AM - Edit history (1)
whether they are ready or not, and we expect them all to learn the same things according to the same schedule, grade by grade, even though they might mature differently.
The younger someone is, the more difference a few weeks or months can make in his development and his readiness to master certain skills. A kid whose birthday is August 31 is actually a whole year younger than one whose birthday is September 2, yet they will be in the same grade.
On top of the age differences in a single class, which can be weeks, months, or nearly a whole year, each child's rate of neurological and muscular development will vary. We start kids in school on the basis of average development, but many kids who fall above or below that average line go into the calculations about what constitutes "average." Thus a child who is not ready to read until he is, say, 8 years old is made to feel stupid because he is in a class with kids who might be months older than he is and whose neurological development makes them ready for reading (or math, or some other subject) sooner than he is, even when they are closer to the same age.
I ran a home daycare for 18 years, and many of the kids I helped raise had learning differences. One boy who came to me at age 7 successfully hid from his teachers (and, for a while, even from me) the fact that he could not do his math or reading assignments. I found out about his math difficulties when he asked me for help with his homework about 15 minutes before he had to be in school (right across the street from me).
As I worked with him, I discovered that his reason for never doing his homework was not laziness, but total lack of comprehension. I called the school and said I was keeping him home with me for a while, because he needed tutoring in math. (Fortunately, the school worked with me, since I had been sitting for many of their students over the years, and they knew how I dealt with them--and that their parents wanted me to have control.)
As for reading, he really couldn't read at all (this was second grade), and though I worked with him for some time, it was years before he became even slightly comfortable reading, though we did keep plugging away at it.
One thing I did was get him interested in Dungeons and Dragons. I would buy him the books for the Dungeon Masters or for the various classes of characters. At first he would just use them to get ideas for his drawings (he was a pretty talented little artist). But he wanted to read those books so much that it motivated him to keep working at it, even though reading was still slow and painful for him. I also bought him superhero comic books, which he loved, even though he had trouble reading them.
He left my daycare at age 12, but we remained close friends, and he often came by to visit and talk.
Then one day, soon after he turned 16, he stopped by to see me. He was so excited that he could hardly calm down enough to tell me what had lit that fire under him.
He'd had trouble sleeping the night before (having drunk too much Pepsi before bed), and after trying to sleep and failing, he went downstairs and started browsing the titles in his mother's small bookshelf. To his surprise, reading the titles and the words on the inside flaps of the book jackets was a smoother, easier process than he was used to, so he opened one and started reading. Not the way he usually read, mind you, but easily, comfortably, with full comprehension!
He could read--really read, not just struggle painfully syllable by syllable, and word by word. He stayed up all night reading, and then raced over to see me as soon as he was sure I would be up. (It was a Saturday.) Not only did he come to tell me about his "miracle," but also to borrow some books to read.
The thing is, if he had been allowed to just give up on reading and math when he could not do them according to the standard schedule, he would have been a 16-year-old who could not read or do math, and he probably would have dropped out of school--or been passed through school to get a worthless diploma, with no hope of any sort of real job in the future.
In other words, if he had not been in my daycare--and if I had not caught him soon enough and continued working with him--he would have started his lifetime of failure by second grade, and the relentless labeling of him as a failure would have damaged him permanently. For him, reading was so alien an activity, that his brain did not develop to the point that it could actually read comfortably until he was 16 years old, but by the time it did, he had several years worth of consistent practice and instruction geared toward his particular needs (including his particular interests) behind him, so a strong foundation had been laid for success when his neurological development finally caught up. Imagine how many kids like him fall through the mile-wide cracks in our educational system, though. So many. So, so many. For sure our system is not going to wait patiently, continuing to work with such kids until they reach age 12, 13, 14, 15, or--as with this boy--16 years of age. No, those kids are not cost effective in a mass educational system, so they are simply left by the wayside.
Even that isn't all the damage being done to them, though. In addition to being left behind, these kids are also being told constantly--sometimes subtly, but often directly and in so many words--that they are dumb, dumb, dumb.
Response to tblue37 (Reply #13)
Fri May 25, 2012, 01:01 AM
zeemike (18,998 posts)
14. Well that is an interesting story
And I have known adults that could not read...but I never knew why.
There was one guy I worked with that could not read...and over time I showed him how to turn the letters into sounds...and to my surprise he started reading...with hesitation but he was able to read for the first time...I guess he was one of those kids and they just gave up on him when he did not get it then....I guess the system just does not have the patience it needs to teach all.
Obviously what they need is more teachers...and teachers that understand what you understand and know effective techniques that work....but we have to change the whole firkin system to get that...politics and all.
Oh for an enlightened leadership!...we have the people to do the work.
Response to tblue37 (Reply #6)
Sat May 26, 2012, 06:04 AM
lovemydog (11,832 posts)
16. I just read a bunch of your essays from Pet Tales
and enjoyed them. You're writing style is very warm, friendly and conversational. I loved the black panther story, lol! Thanks for sharing.