Friday, November 03, 2006

Labels

I know this is politically incorrect to say, but there are kids out there that are just plain stupid as far as some schoolwork goes. They work hard. They go for tutoring. They just don't get it. I have many kids like this in my M&C class. These are the kids that are breaking my heart. No matter how much they do, their test grades are still in the 20 - 30 range. One of my little girls gives up her lunch daily to go over work with me in the library. She can somehow manage to factor and divide complicated fractions, but she forgets how to factor when the factoring is alone. She can't remember the simplest facts, even if we have gone over them five minutes before the exam. I wouldn't label this child as one who needs special education because I really don't think test modifications would do the trick for her. It doesn't matter how slow we go, or how long I give her to finish a test. She is clueless. That doesn't mean that she can't receive an education, or go on to a career where she will make a ton of money. She just can't do math (and I've heard she has severe problems in English also.) One of my students is a resource room kid. He gets extended time on exams. I found a calculus student willing to work with him, almost on a daily basis. He's still failing. He too could use an alternate course of study.

I would label a learning disabled child as a child who has the capacity to learn, one who might need some modifications, but one that is intelligent enough to master the material. I don't think that is what is being done now. Kids that don't achieve are being tested and labeled. They are put in special education classes. The big drawback is that these kids are expected to master the same material as anyone else. The only difference is that the classes they are in are smaller. The work can't go any slower because they are expected to pass the same regent exams in the same amount of semesters as anyone else. Instead of using the label learning disabled, we need to figure out a way of helping these kids. Helping them is not forcing them to take courses that they cannot master.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

The classes are smaller, but that's not the only difference. Having taught special ed., I can tell you it's far easier to teach 34 ordinary kids than 8 special ed. kids.

I would never do it again, as I'm not at all good at it.

Pissed Off said...

I know that. I've taught special education too. And now, classes are far bigger than eight. The special education teachers are being forced to follow the same curriuclum as main stream and that is where the problem lies--these kids are just not capable of learning the material. And there are too many main stream kids in the same situation.

Nic said...

(Gasp!) He said, "Stupid!"

I hate that educrats will never admit that there are actually varying levels of intelligence. Ahem. So, Mr Pissedoff, if your kids aren't all achieving at the SAME level,what new strategies are you going to try to make sure they do?

Pissed Off said...

I don't really like the word stupid either, I just used it to make a point. And not all kids can learn math. The stupid thing is treating everyone the same. There are different levels of intelligence, and that was the point I was trying to make. Everyone has a ceiling of learning and I think some of the kids I teach have reached this level in math. I don't believe they are stupid. I just think we need to explore the areas that they can excel in. My neighbor, never liked school. He graduated and became a car mechanic--better than any I know. He has gone on to open his own shop, now does body work and sells used cars and does much better financially than I ever will. He's not stupid and not being able to factor an expression has done nothing to hold him back. That was the point I was trying to make. I'm tired of being told that a "horseshoe" will help them achieve. THe new Prenctice Hall book that we have been forced to use, only compounds the problems that they have in math. I know there are many things in life that I cannot master. Once I accepted that, I was able to concentrate on what I was good at and become good at the job I do. I apologize if you are offended by the word I use. I would never say this to any of my students, or, out loud to any of my colleagues. I value my students more than you could imagine.

Maybe you have an idea as to how to what strategies will work with a class of 34 kids, ranging from way above level to a 4th grade one. One of my colleagues used the wanted kids to answer a question involving twice their age. He was met with silence. Almost no one knew what the word twice meant.

Nic said...

I was being tongue in cheek....I think I'm the one who didn't make my point well. I didn't find your use of the word "stupid" offensive. It was blunt but honest. My point was the ridiculousness of always pointing the finger at the teacher when all kids don't achieve at the same level, which, of course, they won't. And the finger pointing happens precisely because so many in education refuse to recognize that not ALL kids are smart at everything.

I feel your frustration. I'm not too good at teaching a new language to kids who do poorly in their native languages. Sometimes I feel like I'm teaching English.

Pissed Off said...

I remenber helping my son with Spanish. We would spend hours going over the same words, neither one of us could remember. He is now a computer engineer so while he was "stupid" in Spanish, he excelled in other areas. Luckily, in HS, he was able to drop Spanish and had room to take courses he could do well in. Thanks for your comments, I was sorry I wrote what I did, but it was after a day of frustration--same good kids not succeeding. And I just left a teacher, teaching the same course whose success rate is much lower than mine. Teaching is a hard job--especially when you care.

School Teacher said...

Agreed pissed off. I face the same frustrations here in CA. People who have never taught creating policies that affect students, esp. Spec. Ed. students. The classroom limit in CA is 12 Spec. Ed. kids per class. I've found that to be too many, when it comes to working with those who are slow and are truly LD.