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Monday, Dec. 22, 2014

I can't read

Posted Monday, August 15, 2011, at 9:20 AM

My loving sister (aka "kooky aunt Diane") is having a birthday Aug. 16th. She has reached the age a loving brother no longer mentions (though this time last year, there was a blog about her reaching 65). For a good part of those otherwise undisclosed years Diane was a Special Education teacher working with students of "below average" intellect and indiscriminate behavior patterns -- a life's craft from which she is "retired."

Diane is mentioned because as school starts up again I am reminded of something she once said. According to Di, not everyone's brain is wired to learn from reading. Some people, mostly her students, simply could only learn from what they saw and heard. This, naturally, worked against her and "regular" teachers because in today's school system students (i.e., teachers) are graded almost exclusively by how well they read.

Interestingly, Indiana is now offering an on-line curriculum for all grades Kindergarten through high school. Presumably this is offered to those students who learn from what they read. It's just as well there were no computers circa 1953. Although I have generally been told I'm smarter than any of Diane's students, I've never been all that good at learning from what I read. I distinctly recall having been off sick sometime about the fifth grade and having my "lessons" sent home to work out. I was absolutely lost without a teacher on hand to explain what it was I read.

This is now my fifth year of writing these blogs. As I look back it is interesting how much of what I write is of things seen and heard and experienced and observed. I once told my friend Charles Hear I would never be the writer he is simply because he learns from reading, whereas I live and die by what little an aged mind recalls experiencing. Once in awhile some bit of something read comes back. Truth is I never wrote as consistently prior to the coming of the Internet, which allows me to find that bit I remember and write it right.

What about those children who cannot learn from reading because that is not how their brains are wired? Of course we only had the five, but it does seem no two kids are much alike. In the mad rush to not leave behind any marching to the beat of a different clarinet, is it sometimes forgotten they are children -- wildly dissimilar children?

Our youngest, Benjamin, is a fifth-grade teacher in Charlotte, NC. He is, by all reports, an exceptionally good teacher (a fact which amazes those who knew him at Northview). Parents request Benji as teacher for their kid -- other teachers demand it. What happens, though, some 40, 30, 20 or 10 years hence? Will he be "retired" because he was willing to slow and wait for that child left behind -- marching to a different clarinet? (Worse yet, will he turn into "kooky uncle Benji"?).

Mrs. Zimmerman, my fifth-grade teacher, had the time and willingness to wait for me. It is most likely you would not be reading this blog if she had lived in today's press of paperwork and politics and thereby could not have so waited. You see, I can't read. But, because of a few clarinet marching teachers I was not left behind.



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My view from the back pew
David L. Lewis
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