Adele Diamond's research and work reflects my lifetime learning experience and thus my reflections on how we learn. I am dyslexic, as are my children. I grew up in Evanston, IL in a public school system that was (is) ahead of its time. We had drama, daily gym, all the arts, and a music program that included music appreciation as well as orchestra, band and chorus. My life outside of school was rich with play and cultural experiences. Chicago offered diverse ethnic neighborhoods, museums of every nature, world religions, architecture, the arts, symphony, opera, ballet, circuses, rodeos and beyond. I used to play on the grounds of the Bahia temple. I went to Northwestern University for speech and swimming. I was the subject of a study when I was seven years old (sitting in the middle of tables surrounded by professors from 5 - 7 p.m. on Tuesdays - not fun). I was very active outside of school and was free to roam. I had a fabulous imagination...and yet... with all that said no one recognized that I was dyslexic. My violin teacher thought she had a child prodigy until I had to actually read music and not play by ear. My teachers always recommended summer school thinking that might "fix" me. My sixth grade teacher announced that I would be a straight A+ student if I could get by on imagination alone but, unfortunately, it took work to get good grades. My eighth grade teacher told my mother I was not college material. My fate was sealed. I accepted I was stupid. I still know it today. Those teachers did their work on my self esteem. Then at 16, I had a tutor who taught me morphology. My sophomore year in college my psych professor taught me how to study. My last two years of college I was on the Dean's list. After two years of teaching deaf students, I was awarded a grant that covered my tuition and a living stipend to attend graduate school at Boston University. I taught for 12 more years (K - 12, deaf, hearing impaired, learning "disabled") and then became a stay-at-home mother. In 1996, I tried to re-enter education. I was not current under "Ed Reform". In 1998, my marriage ended. In 1999-2000, I attended Carroll School's (Lincoln, MA) GIFFT program to be trained in the Orton-Gillinham reading approach. At the age off 50, I came to understand my life as an unidentified dyslexic, right-brained, spontaneous, random, abstract learner. I accept myself as a playful child who learns by doing. I returned to work as a public school O-G tutor for 7 years and was literally booted out because I advocated too much for children's rights to learn. My classroom was filled with hands-on toys/materials, and my students did not have to be seated. We made up games and played to learn. (Dr. Stephen Wilkins, psychiatrist/psycholoist once stated, "Kindergarten teacher have it right, it is too bad high school kids aren't allowed to learn that way). As you can surmise, I agree with Adele Diamond's research findings. I have been unemployed since June 2007 with a 5 month break as a long term substitute Title I reading specialist at South Shore Charter Public School in Norwell, MA. It was a utopian experience. The students (K-12) are ethnically and learner diverse. Everyone is honored. All are on first name basis, It is a learning and living community that embraces every aspect of Dr. Diamond's vision of "Learning, Being, Doing". My principal was Ted Hirsch (son of E.D. Hirsch and so much more). Ted graduated from Harvard University in Art. He is dyslexic. He embodies the joy of learning. Prue Goodale is the school's outstanding director. She allows the ebb and flow of daily life in a dynamic learning community. Because it is real, there are problems. Human behavior has not been snuffed out. Yet most problems are resolved as a community. The people of this community are a body that works together to enliven learning, promote curiosity, expand possibilities and allow anyone who can soar to do so. I am fortunate to have heard Krista's interview with Adele Diamond. It brightens my hopes that education can change. Canada has shown wisdom in opening up options based on the scientific research of those who value studying the brain and the whole being. Pestalozzi, Montessori, Vygotsky, Orton, Wernicke, Broca, Shaywitz (to touch on some greats)have given us so much that does not appear to be part of much of USA public education. My hope is for the wisdom of the few to open doors that allow joyful lifetime learning for all. It would be fulfilling to see an end of the assessment driven, regurgitatave state of education that exists in too many classrooms of public education. When muscles are not used they atrophy...let's get up and dance, shout and sing praises to encouraging mindfulness of the wonders of our world and our fortune to be its explorers.
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