Ever since I took off my kid gloves last week and finally addressed the truth about public education, I have been pondering the question behind why schools do things the way they do.
Take special education, for example – specifically, the education establishment’s approach to children with ADHD.
As a mom to a child who was diagnosed with ADHD when he was in school, I have had firsthand experience with this, but for the sake of time, I won’t be getting into our specific story today. Right now, I’m more concerned with the general treatment of these children in the school setting.
In this setting, children with this condition are often recommended to be medicated, slapped with the label of “special education,” and given an IEP. There are a couple reasons behind this:
- freeing the teacher from disruptions, and
- providing the student with an “individualized” learning environment
Makes sense, right?
Knowing what I know about the history of compulsory schooling, however, I can’t help but ponder what else may be behind this approach, because although it may appear to be very innocent and proactive, the results are anything but.
Why? Because wearing the label of “special ed” comes with a stigma – a stigma that is so prevalent that even the youngest children in an elementary school will immediately pick up on it. These kids are different. They don’t do things the way everything else does. There must be something wrong with them.
As a child in the gifted/honors program, I remember all too well the snide remarks my teachers would make about the kids in “those” classes. They were slow learners. They didn’t listen. You don’t want to end up in “those classes.”
And those remarks – no matter how subtle – stuck with me. I remember the days when I would have to sit across from the “LD (learning disabilities) kids” at lunch – days which I dreaded because I didn’t want to be near them. What if they had germs? What if they breathed on my food? I can’t count the number of times I went home with an empty stomach because I threw out my lunch in case one of “those kids” breathed on it.
As an adult, I am ashamed I ever felt this way, but this is the way I was conditioned – yes, conditioned – in my school.
And now that I’ve brought up conditioning – the sole purpose of the compulsory school system – I can finally get to the point of this post:
What if there’s more to this story?
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the history of compulsory schooling, I highly recommend you watch this video before you go any further because this information will be crucial in helping you understand the enormity of what I’m proposing.
For those of you who know exactly what I’m talking about, let’s ponder a few things.
What if the problem is about more than classroom interruptions?
As you should be well aware of by now, compulsory schooling is not about educating but is about training obedient citizens and workers. That’s why the public “education” system cares more about teaching children to parrot back information rather than desiring for them to truly learn anything.
For the average student, learning to play the school game will come sooner or later. This isn’t quite so easy for a child with ADHD. Children with ADHD are impulsive. They will speak up when things don’t make sense, and you can bet they will question why they have to do certain things.
This isn’t good in a setting that is meant to train children to blindly submit to authority.
What if one of the reasons these children are taken out of the classroom is so that they will not set an example of thinking for themselves to their peers? What if the “bad influence” these children are rumored to have on their classmates is only bad for compulsory schooling but is ultimately good for the critical thinking skills of their classmates?
That’s something to think about, isn’t it?
What if their individualized work isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?
I know I said I wasn’t going to get into our personal story of ADHD today, but one thing I will address is the “individualized work” my son was bringing home when he was in school.
You see, it wasn’t really individualized learning at all. It was simply the same old worksheets given in every classroom, except these worksheets were two grade levels lower than the one he was in.
If there’s one thing I know about kids with ADHD, it’s that they don’t do well with worksheets. They need hands-on, engaging activities, and you can bet your life that educational bureaucrats are well aware of this.
So the question is, why are these children being presented with a dumbed-down version of the run of the mill classroom assignments that all students get?
I think the phrase “dumbed-down” just may hold the answer to that.
What if these kids are presented with lower grade level assignments to make them feel stupid? To “put them in their place,” so to speak, so that they become too self-conscious to question the status quo?
That’s exactly what it did to my son. He is now a homeschooled 12th grader, and to this day, he calls himself stupid. Angry does not even begin to describe how that makes me feel.
What if the “special education stigma” happened on purpose?
As a writer, there’s one thing I’m very, very sure of : words mean things.
What if the instincts we’ve developed towards those children with “learning differences” happened on purpose? What if the spin that is placed on certain words and phrases, such as…
- special education
- learning disabilities
- learning support
- learning disabilities
…was deliberately put in place to devalue anything these kids have to say? Keep in mind that these are the same children who are most likely to speak up and question authority.
What if the best way to silence those who may inspire others to open their eyes is to take away their credibility and portray them as “less than”?
This certainly isn’t unheard of. I see it happening in the adult world every day. People who question things that most people accept because some authority figure told them so are often described as:
- back in the Stone Age
- conspiracy theorists
- and so on and so on…
Even as adults, we continue to shun those who think differently than we do – not because we’ve done any research, but because we assume we know more than they do.
We’re programmed to react this way, and it has to change. We have to change.
The million dollar question is, what will it take?