Today, I stumbled across the below video on the PBS web page. I believe it’s in the same PBS NewsHour series that I’d mentioned in the entry about preventing bullying by getting involved early.
This segment focuses on a school in Boston in which students with learning and developmental disabilities are taught alongside neuronormative students. They’re all taught early on that the variations of ability are all normal.
I really like the quote by Tom Heir. “It’s not unusual that some kids don’t walk. It’s not unusual that some kids don’t talk. It’s not unusual that some kids struggle to read or or process information. That’s the norm.”
The school works on that premise, and it seems to add to the students’ success.
They also have multiple teachers in the classroom with various specialities, which is, of course, expensive. One of the things that impressed me was that one of those teachers specialized in sensory problems, which is overlooked way too often.
They also have a concentration on the arts, which helps those with difficulty with reading or writing express themselves.
Quite honestly, I think the early integration of all students is extremely valuable. I think part of the cause of social stigmas and discrimination against most groups probably stems from the fact that each group sees themselves as separate somehow, and by extension, sees everyone else as separate as well.
That strict sense of division breeds little more than misunderstanding, ignorance and, in way too many cases, hate. The only way to get rid of that destructive mindset is to get out of your comfort zone and talk with people who you may not know well.
If both parties can start seeing how many commonalities they share, hopefully they can learn to appreciate and learn from their differences. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems like common sense to me.
I had attended two separate elementary schools, since we moved halfway through my first grade year. I vividly remember the ‘help’ LD students received in the first school. The most help we got was to be sent into the hallway to watch a video.
The only thing I remember about the videos is that they were excruciatingly boring and how painful it was to interact socially with anyone from that school. The only teacher I recall getting along with on any level was the art teacher.
The second school had a much better special education program, but it was still procedure to segregate the special education kids from the rest. There was a lot of bullying come middle school, but most teachers and many students were a lot more open minded. Maybe it was the area or the social climate of the community.
Regardless, when I was fully mainstreamed in high school, that sense of being different and somehow less capable than the rest of the students continued to echo well into adulthood.
My experience aside, it seems that segregating students who need extra help is pretty common practice all over the country. Where I live now, in MN, I know it was prevalent throughout the various school districts.
It doesn’t seem to work very well for many LD students, either. The fact that kids with LDs are twice as likely to drop out as their peers without disorders is pretty telling.
Our educational system really needs to be restructured. There are some benchmark schools, like the one below, who seem to be on the right track, but who’s to say more educational facilities will follow their example?