I ran across this article today and I just couldn't pass it up. Okay, in the spirit of full disclosure, this article was dumped in my cyber-lap via my news feed on Facebook (yes, I'm one of those relics who still uses FB) and me being me (remember me not being able to recognize an original thought if it hit me upside the head?), I couldn't resist using for a topic for a blog post. In my defense however, I would like to say that this is something I've wanted to talk about for quite awhile, it's just I didn't have a visual aid to go along with it. So today's topic is: I wish Michael Weinstein Would Have Been Home Schooled.
Here's the article: http://www.goldenhatfoundation.org/about-us/blog/125-golden-hat-foundation-blog-70211. Meet me back here after you've read it.
Okay, so here's my premise (which may or may not turn into premises if I decide to ramble) 1) "Just because I don't talk doesn't mean I don't have anything to say", or to embellish that, "Just because I don't talk doesn't mean there's nothing going on inside the computation center of my brain". Of course this isn't my phrase, I heard it a long time ago and it really resonated with me. I probably owe the person who coined it a gazillion dollars because I quote it all the time. Side note: I heard this LONG before being able to wrap my brain around the fact that one of our kids would essentially be NON-verbal and the other child would have profound issues with how to USE language in an understandable way. I'm a communicator by profession and I LOVE words the way my daughter loves chocolate, so how could "I" have a non verbal child?? Because God had some things for me to learn, that's how. But I digress. So this phrase, "Just because I don't talk doesn't mean I don't have anything to say" is what I would like to carve into the foreheads of every public school teacher and every special ed teacher in the business.
Now that we're entering our SEVENTH year of homeschooling (holy home school desks, denim jumpers, and homemade laundry soap Batman, time sure flies!), I feel I can speak to this a little, because, well like I said, I've got a couple of kids who have some "issues" with verbal language. And ya know what, their issues with verbal language don't mean BUBKUS when it comes to their core intelligences. And I don't care what standardized tools you use or what nationally recognized tests you throw at a student, just because he/she doesn't have the ability to speak, doesn't mean they have cognitive disabilities.....or as the medical and educational "professionals" like to say, "mental retardation". And one of our children has mental retardation, I can also speak to that too. Another time.
So here's this young Michael Weinstein kid growing up with hideous labels being hurled at him from ALL directions since toddler hood, all because he couldn't "prove" that he WASN'T mentally retarded. Ah, but now we rejoice because about 15 minutes ago, Michael, for whatever DEVELOPMENTAL reason (another sorely lacking concept in the mass institutionalization that is government run education) was able to start proving his intellectual worth. All the while Michael's been brilliant, he's been expressing his creativity and imagination in no doubt countless ways that his family and friends could see, but just not in the narrow, hyper-focused way that the "professional educators" were trained to see. So they were functionally blind when it came to Michael's giftedness and the giftedness of thousands and thousands of others just like him (think Sharissa Joy Kochmeister and Carly Fleischmann to name but two other highly intelligent people who happen to be non verbal). In the meantime their psyches have been battered and bruised and the stress they've been under since their toddler days would kill most modern day warriors. They ARE warriors. And I'm so thrilled for them that they've survived and I'm very happy for Michael that he's finally receiving some recognition for his innate uniqueness and creativity. But I just think it could have come at a lesser cost.
Don't get me wrong here: I am in NO WAY impugning Michael's parents for not home schooling him. But what I am saying brings me to my second point and that is 2) The mass education model is lousy for discovering a student's strengths and talents. I've come to appreciate that the learning at home student doesn't have anything to "prove" to the system, unlike the public/private school model. And remember, I came into homeschooling as the biggest anti-home schooler around. For an analogy, go read how a brilliant and highly respected Jew named Saul met his match on the road to Damascus in the book of Acts in the New Testament of the Bible. While I was no where near as smart or highly regarded as Paul, I was every bit as passionate about NOT home schooling as Paul was about killing every Christian he could sniff out within a ten mile radius. The point is, that while learning at home my kids don't have to "prove" anything to me. The premise from which we work is that both kids are very intelligent in their own way and we are constantly looking for ways to give them opportunities to shine. And no, this isn't just coming a lovey-dovey mom who thinks her kids hang the moon. I live with them, I know the truth! For crying out loud I've got a 12 year old daughter who just the other day (and I'm not exaggerating) used "Aristotle's 4 ways of investigating something new" (I think that was the title) to refute Darwinsim, but she can't spell the word "very". So ya, I'm keenly aware of her strengths and weaknesses, but in the meantime I'm not going to slap a label of "Spelling Failure" on her so that weight can drag her to hell.
Because we have a much broader definition for intelligence and are constantly providing them real life opportunities to show what they know, our home education environment is diametrically opposed to that of the public school. I'm sorry Michael Weinstein didn't have that opportunity and it strengthens my conviction that if you want your kids to really discover how they can rock this world and make it a better place, keep them away from public school