Tuesday, October 27, 2009


For your consideration:

A 6th grader has an IQ of 70, reads at a second grade level, and struggles to do subtraction.

How important is it that this student learn longitude and latitude, know the taxonomy of animals, describe the differences in an island and an archipelago, or the write the definition of an autotroph?

This real life 6th grader sits in regular classrooms and is expected to pay attention, do the homework, and take the tests. However, he does not have the ability to comprehend much of the information. The result is a frustrated 12 year old with low self esteem who is not learning much of anything. (The equivalent in my world would be sitting me in a calculus class, followed by quantum physics with a dose of organic chemistry thrown in.) Would it not be better to spend the time teaching him to read and do basic math while focusing his energies on life skills?

Even with all the differentiation, individualized educational plans, and learning accommodations (having tests read, extending testing times), such children are not getting what they need. Within the middle school schedule there is no time to teach basic reading and math. So, we send this boy and others like him through the regular schedule whether he can learn from it or not and then wonder why he shuts down. This student is not being taught ..... he's being shuffled through a system that doesn't know what to do with him, doesn't have the resources to help him, and isn't in a hurry to change.

(The above is not an indictment of the teachers who work with him and who are doing their best within an ineffective educational system. It is the system as a whole that is antiquated and in dire need of an overhaul.)

1 comment:

Cheryle said...

How sad this makes me feel for this child - and for those who try to teach him while also teaching children who can learn these things.

I know that there are advantages to mainstreaming children like him, but I sometimes think the disadvantages are more pronounced. Why isn't there a place where he can learn the things HE needs to get through life. When he's put into a situation like this, you have to ask just whose needs are being met; certainly not his.