Maybe you’re NOT Learning Disabled?

Herbie wants to be a dentist!In traditional schools, groups of students need to be “controlled”; they need to be managed to maintain order.  17% Of a teacher’s day in middle class school systems is spent helping students manage their time and materials (Pianta, 2007).  Complacency is rewarded with good grades, time outside at recess, and movies on Fridays.  Students who learn best when moving, singing, sculpting, acting, rolling in the grass, looking at teeth, etc., are rarely afforded opportunities to learn in ways that best suit their characteristics.  The learning skills of the minority are sacrificed for those of the majority.   Because of this, assessment from a teacher will only measure the content and process knowledge for those specific learning activities that exercise the major learning skills of the class. Some skills go unnoticed. Some skills are never celebrated.

Roth & Barton (2004) posit that not only are some students’ strengths never seen, students’ inability to perform in the prescribed activities marks them as learning disabled.  “Situations mediate the assessment of disability and ability, which could subsequently be attributed to and turned into characteristics of these same students” (p.130).  In other words, not only do skills go unnoticed, deficiencies in other skills are used as a resource for categorizing a child as learning disabled. This has a subsequent cascading effect on the student, as teachers inadvertently lower their expectations of the student, and the student internalizes this same stereotype of inferior learning ability as truth (Weinberg, 1989; Cose, 1994). Even if a student is not categorized as disabled, traditional “school-based knowledge may yield at best a superficial representation of domain knowledge…and may even result in students wasting years of their life wading through shallow waters of meaningless information” (Beghetto & Kaufman, 2009, p. 317).

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