Saturday, November 3, 2012
Indeed, being knowledgeable with a special learning need is important, but without empathy knowledge is just put to waste. After watching the movie, I cried a river and then I thought I would like to make a difference and never repeat a mistake of letting go of a beautiful mind from my care. To my recollection, I did not stand for what is right and just for a student who is challenged by dyslexia.
He came in my class, sat at the last row, but with the best view of the projector and me in the center during our lectures. Mac, that's what he wanted me and the rest of the class to call him. He was the only student in that group of challenged learners who could respond wittingly with intelligent answers. With the first writing diagnostics they had, I was baffled that he was committing gross mistakes in spelling.
It was just carelessness. Then I thought it could be dysgraphia. Later on I realized that he had dyslexia. That encounter with Mac, forced me to do some research and readings on his condition. He could not tell it to me, until his mom intimated his condition during our parents-teachers consultation. What surprised me the most is that with his writing, he demonstrates proficiency in the language structure, and understanding of the grammar rules and word functions. Except that he has difficulty in spelling.
He passed the first term. He passed the second term. While he was under my instruction in the first term, I invited him for tutorials, and we started relearning phonetic reading. He's got little progress. In the second term, his teacher complained of the same thing - his spelling errors. I explained that Mac has dyslexia and he has determination to overcome it. As he has that reading disorder, I advised the teacher to adjust the evaluation for him and allow him to use tools such as a laptop in writing.
He got one of the lowest mark in his writing class, but he passed the subject anyway. Third term was about reading. Although, I was able to advise his teacher regarding his condition, he did not make it in that term. The teacher's observation was that he had slow reading ability, and he had lower comprehension and that he's handwriting could not be understood, and that most of the time he is distracted and would be talking so much. That devastated me.
Mac had the talent for the arts. He could capture what his eyes could see in his artwork. I could remember how he draw me on the board, showing how I look like when I smoke outside the school. He is artistically intelligent, and he has no intent of majoring literature or linguistic. He is much interested in completing a degree in multimedia arts. I knew he would be successful in such field. But, I could no longer see that dream fulfilled because he failed in his last English subject and for that he was dismissed in the college preparatory program.
He was one my brightest student, and he has great potentials. He has the determination and persistence to overcome his reading disorder. It is the school's means to help a student like him which is lacking. It is the teachers' empathic understanding of such condition that is preventing a child like him to achieve something. It is the standards of "normal" that keeps a learner with special needs who has special talent that makes the school harder for the challenged learner.
I could only do what I can, and I cannot compel other teachers whose mind are narrow to consider one student unprepared and unfit for college. I pity them more, than those students who persevere to overcome their personal challenges, because they think that the classroom is a box for manufactured learners that passed strict quality testing.
Dyslexia is a reading disorder, resulting from a brain malfunction. It has implications to the cognitive ability to comprehend, read and write. It is worsened by the learning environment's lack of knowledge, attention and support to the needs of the learners suffering with it. It is a reading disorder and not a psychological disorder, it can be remedied by reintroducing the language and helping the learner connect the symbols to the sounds and to the objects in their world. Giving up on them, is giving up on giving them a beautiful life they can have in this world.
What's the school for anyway?
Thursday, November 1, 2012
One of my student drew a big question mark in that space where he should draw a symbol he could associate to his dream career. A big question mark it is, which he explained to best describe his present situation: that he did not have anything in mind yet or still unsure of the course he would take. He furthered that he is waiting for what God wanted for him.
I listened intently as I allowed him to share his ideas to our group discussion. It is understandable for him to have no career choice, yet at his age and because he is in a college-preparatory program. But since he applied to college, he should placed several choices in his entrance application. Yet, he did not tell of anything specific about the course he wanted.
Earlier, he introduced himself as a Christian and not a Catholic. I admired him for his expression of faith, and being bold to tell about it. In our recent activity where I asked my class of 22 students to draw any symbolism of their dream career, this boy just put a question mark. I knew what it meant, but I had to wait for what he would say.
When he was done, I had to share my thoughts about his thinking right there and then. I told him it is alright to spend some time thinking about what he wanted. He said he wanted what God wills for him. That is one very beautiful thought from a young believer. I told him that God speaks in many ways, through other people. I told him that to know what God wills, one needs to see where he is. What God wants is where we are, and the best of what we can be.
I explained, that God gave us the freedom to choose, and the will to become the best of us. We have the gift of mind that comes with the gifts of life and time. With our will comes our choice, and God wants us to make better choices every time. We can choose to act, but in some instance our actions may not prosper - because that is not what God wants for us. "God wants the best for us, and the best in us." I told him. The best in us is making a choice for our life, for our future and offering everything we do for God's glory.
I told him so many things, and he was just paying attention. Then he said: "Right, sir. I should make a choice for me."