I was raised to believe in the power of a good education, that education is something, once earned, no one can take from you. And I still believe in those things. But I am getting a sudden, rude awakening in dealing with less-than-stellar schooling for my son. And I’m gaining a new perspective on education in general.
I’ve followed the reports about college degrees not being as necessary as they once were (or at least not getting much return on investment). I’ve seen alternatives to public schooling that work. And I have now witnessed public education that has lost its focus on children, and gone in such a wrong direction.
So what is the value of an education for my son?
What is the endgame here?
Will he attend college? Maybe — I’m not ruling it out, but most likely, no college program is going to be able to provide him with the supports he needs to learn, at least no college program that we are going to be able to afford. He is a bright boy, but it takes a lot of work on his part and the part of those educating him to see results. It takes a lot of understanding, a lot of compassion, and having the right people in the right place at the right time to make it happen, and realistically, I don’t see anything like that happening at the college level.
So the value of an education for my son is not about subject matter content. The value of a public education is in the social skills he learns. I can supplement subject matter content until the cows come home, but what I really want him to walk away with is the ability to understand neuro-typical behavior to some extent, and to be able to cope in this neuro-typical world. I want him to be as independent as possible, and I don’t think “learning” about the Pharaohs of Egypt by doing a wordsearch is going to contribute much to that goal.
Therefore, stressing about getting that stupid wordsearch done doesn’t give us much return on investment. And I’m OK with a C in a class where the teacher probably privately thinks that modifications and accommodations are unfair. I have always been much more interested in IEP goal reports than report cards, because learning to live in the world around us is our endgame. And learning to live in the world around us is so much more important than a stupid wordsearch.
“but it takes a lot of work on his part and the part of those educating him to see results. It takes a lot of understanding, a lot of compassion, and having the right people in the right place at the right time to make it happen, and realistically, I don’t see anything like that happening at the college level.”
The purpose of a college education is to spend 4 years immersed in something that interests you — that knowledge for the sake of knowledge, in and of itself, is both important and worthwhile. Interesting and valuable – not just to an individual, but to the world at large.
The role of a college prof is not to sponfeed information to a legal adult in a manner that is compassionate and oriented to that specific individual, whose hand is held the while way through. It’s to teach students who want to learn.
The role of any true educator is to ensure his or her students learn, no matter what it takes.
My son is not spoonfed, nor are his supports in place to “hold his hand”. He does very much want to learn, and he is a smart kid. In fact, he wants to be a PE teacher when he grows up.
He has a neurological disorder which affects his processing skills, as well as his executive functioning skills, and he is not alone. 1 in 88 children are struggling with the same deficits that make a typical public education an extreme challenge. Should he be denied the right to a higher education because he has a disability? You seem to think so.
My post was to point out that colleges, by and large, are not yet equipped to handle kids with special needs, and therefore may not be an option for him, regardless of whether he wants to learn there or not. I think you have proved my point.
Colleges are designed for *adults* — not kids. Colleges handle the special needs of *many* adults with special needs just fine, and laws are in place to ensure this happens.
I went to Penn State for grad school (as did my sister) and we both did great — and we both have special needs (mental illness severe enough to have necessitated a psychiatrist and meds as grade schoolers). A number of my grad school office mates (bullpen-style office w/14 of us) were dyslexic, received the accommodations to which they were entitled and thrived. We were all on full academic scholarships in the materials science department.
(Probably half the faculty, had they been 25-45 years younger, would likely have been diagnosed as on the spectrum. Both my parents are theoretical physicists and many of their colleagues would be too. They’ve ALL thrived. Soecial needs don’t impede college success!!!).
One can only hope that by the time your amazing, bright, son is ready for college, there will be more professors/universities willing to help the thousands of people on the spectrum that are not only willing to, but excited about going to college and furthering their education. Even if they have to “immerse” themselves, just like the rest of us, in at least two years of awful prerequisites before they can really get to the subjects that interest them. (Seriously, where did the previous poster attend that all four years were interesting??… I wish I would’ve known about that).
Yes, I s’pose those higher ed folks have some time to catch up 😉