When parents come in to talk about their kids and why they are struggling there are the common list of factors that are usually discussed.  Some of these include:

  • Poor phonemic awareness
  • Limited decoding skills
  • Weak fluency
  • Family predisposition toward dyslexia and/or ADHD
  • Weak attention skills
  • Weak sustained mental effort/executive functioning
  • Weak language processing skills

The list can go on easily with at least 50 more cognitive (“in the head”) variables contributing to school struggling.

We tend to focus on those factors.  We medicate, remediate and accommodate these.  Sometimes we over-focus on them.

What about the “out of the head” variables?  These are important too.

Out of the head variables include the dreadful parade of worksheets given to the kids who can’t handle them.  They also include the school’s being required to adhere to a curriculum (Common Core) that seems to be sucking the joy out of education by teaching reading in a robotic fashion with little attention paid toward literature and the sheer joy of exploring new ideas.

Data drives all.  

“Come on, kid. It’s time to get in line with the program.  We have to chart Student Growth Objectives or we will get slammed.” 

Love of learning?  Who can quantify that?  That’s so yesterday.

All of this data driven education is fine for the 60%, the ones who are on what I call the “smooth road.”  They can handle virtually all of what is given to them whether it is stultifying or not. 

For the rest, the ones on the “rougher road,” just remember it’s not all in their head.