Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Elf Mom, Deirdre Mundy and Niels Henrik Abel on Models for Autism: the math skills tradeoff


Happy Elf Mom said...

Not sure. I know that Emperor is gifted in maths and NOT gifted in social skills. I keep him home to educate him because I'm pretty sure they're not going to teach my third grader algebra. :)

But when he goes to school someday, I'm afraid they will eat him alive. He just has no clue how to carry on a conversation and doesn't understand why people don't like him. I'm very sad for him in that aspect of his life.

Deirdre Mundy said...

The big problem I see is that schools have taken over 'socialization' as well as education. It used to be that kids were 'socialized' by family, the neighborhood, the church, the after school job.
Now school is responsible, and so everything has to become about academics AND socialization.
Teachers don't see the problem because ES teachers seem to be drawn from the segment of society who pick up social skills easily and naturally. So they see "more success!" because kids who would have struggle with academics are now excelling (because they're also graded on social skills.)

On the other hand, for the kids who struggle with social skills (Autism spectrum, ADHD, just plain quirky), passing as 'normal' takes a PHENOMENAL amount of effort. And even if they work really hard, they STILL come off as defective, just less defective than previously. (Speaking from personal experience here! ;) )

So, if they're forced to focus on appearing 'normal,' they STILL fail on social skills, but they also have no effort to spare to actually concentrate on the material!

I see this all the time with my ADHD daughter (runs in our family!! ;) )
If I make her sit still and display 'typical attentive student' body language, that's ALL she can do (until she melts down from exhaustion and stress and worry and failure.)
If I let her be....odd... she can master the material quickly, enjoys academics, and draws connections, thinks, and wonders.
Then we save the HARD stuff (personal space, ettiquitte, not crying, standing mostly still) for other times of day and other activities (CCD, art class, tai kwo do, speech therapy, church, playdates, grocery stores.)
But Math is math. Reading is reading. History is history.

But the schools insist on joining social skills with EVERYTHING, and then can't understand why the kids who stink at "social' get depressed and give up.
Even though a kid who dislikes MATH gets all sorts of sympathy and encouragement.
But, of course, social skills are easy and fun!....if you're normal and the ES teachers.....

Anonymous said...

I''m not remotely on the autistic spectrum, but I am someone who likes to choose when to be "social" and when not to. A classroom where I was expected to learn through interaction with other students, even if they were focused and on-task at all times, even if we were all at the same level, even if this were not an inefficient way to learn (usually), that classroom would have been a nightmare for me. I actually enjoyed being a baby boomer who never experienced a K-8 classroom with fewer than 35 kids in it; with those numbers, you do whole-class instruction and the students ask the teacher questions if they don't understand. Teachers facilitate whole-class discussions. The interactions I saw going on between the children working in groups in my own children's classrooms was not a model for good learning, and was painful to one of my (also not autistic) son, irritating to one daughter, and a matter of indifference to the other.

Niels Henrik Abel said...

Even though a kid who dislikes MATH gets all sorts of sympathy and encouragement.
But, of course, social skills are easy and fun!....if you're normal and the ES teachers.....
So true, so true!! Not being adept at math or science is considered acceptable (at least tacitly so), but those who are introverted and prefer to study or play alone (or with a buddy or two, as opposed to a larger group) are marked as defective and needing treatment to cure them of their "anti-social" (if anything, "asocial" is more accurate) behavior.
I was always turned off by that narrow-minded, petty view towards "loners." When will people realize that there is a difference between "being alone" and "being lonely"?

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