I find myself shaking my head a lot in utter disbelief when I talk to parents about what’s happening with their children in school..

I also find myself being more and more outrageous in ways that I would probably not have been in my younger years. This week to a mom who describing what was taking place in school for her very special needs child, I said to the mom, “Is it ok if I use inappropriate language?”

“Go right ahead,” she smiled and responded.

“WTF,” I exclaimed in plainer language.  “Are you kidding me?”  (Thankfully, she laughed.)

This was in reaction to a writing sample the mom showed me of her severely learning disabled son who barely could write a complete ,  sentence no less an essay (which was being asked of him).  What triggered my reaction was on the top of his submitted writing for English class (he was 15) was the teacher’s critique with the comment that his writing was, “not in MLA style.”

In case you’ve forgotten English 101 from college, as noted in Wikipedia:

“MLA (Modern Language Association of America) documentation is used in scholarship throughout the humanities, especially in English studies, modern languages and literatures, comparative literature, literary criticism, media studies and related disciplines

“MLA Style???????”


I continually return to sports or related skill analogies in the work that I do with kids and my explanation to parents.

“We need to be in a zone of reality,” I start with the mom.  “If a person is asked to lift 50 pound weights because that is the norm for 10th grade, that’s all well and good, but if the person is barely capable of lifting 10 pounds, what then?  Do we tap our foot and moralize that “you need to be lifting 50 lbs.’ because that is what most your age can do.”

It’s patently absurd, yet I see this in different versions on a regular basis.

Whether the child is officially labeled “dyslexic” or “learning disabled” there needs to be a reasonable match between the child’s capabilities and what is being asked of him/her.

As a parent I would suggest that you try and be as vigilant as you can with regard to the work being given to your child.  If it seems like the trend is work that is in the child’s frustration zone (i.e., beyond the child’s capabilities), then you need to send it back with a note attached that what is being asked is fundamentally unfair.

I don’t think you can react to every assignment and you want to be careful not to overreact, but if you have double-checked yourself and made sure you are being fair in your request, then you are your child’s best advocate to sensitize the teacher as to the issue of what your child can or cannot do.

Copyright, 2019 www.shutdownlearner.com
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