100 Days of #RadiCoolUnschooling – Day 19

So yesterday, I talked about schools, reading, dyslexia, Cognitive Death, and mental health again. What you might not know is that this is my second time around this block with a special needs/additional learning (ALN) needs #LittleHuman.

And the first time around, I listened to the schools, educators, and ‘experts’. The result? A wonderful, but broken man. A mega-talented artist who lacks the self-confidence to pursue his dreams. Someone who once considered dropping out of high school because California passed a stupid law that unless you could pass its high school exit exam (without any provisions for ALN) then you could not receive your diploma. Twelve years of hard work, bullying, and struggles for NOTHING. A certificate of completion which everyone knew meant you were stupid.

But he is/was no more ‘stupid’ or ‘dumb’ than PanKwake. In their own ways, they are the equal and sometimes even surpass my son who is pursuing his PhD in engineering at Cambridge. Yes, YES! I said that my twelve year old daughter who cannot read and my twenty-nine year old son that is barely functionally literate are just as smart as my ‘genius’.

Yesterday, as I was writing that blog…I was also chatting my son. He was drunk. Do I like that? No. But I understand it. Being told for over twelve years of your life all the things that you CANNOT do. Being ISOLATED in a classroom with a dozen other ‘dummies’ like yourself. Only being put with the ‘normal’ kids for lunch and PE…and then being subject to bullying.

I accept my part in that. Though he absolves me of guilt…telling me that I did the best I could back then, I cannot forgive myself.

You see, we home educated our children back then. We were THOSE Christians. We did not want our kids exposed to all the sins of the world…that I now happily embrace. We had struggled to teach reading to two dyslexics already. But with the artist…we felt inadequate. What did we know about learning disabilities? Surely the schools, teachers, and ‘experts’ could do better by him.

But they did not. They broke him. By focusing on the all the things that he could not do…all that extra ‘help’ with reading, writing, and maths to the exclusion of the things that he was good at…destroyed his self-esteem. He checked out. And he is just now beginning the long road back…twenty years later…just beginning.

He shared with me something yesterday.

He told me that he was twelve…the same age as PanKwake…when he heard that song. And he has spent all the years since THINKING about that song.

How many people in this world THINK about anything anymore?

Work. Reality TV. Clothes. Cars. Houses. Shoes. But think? Really think? Consider the world…their own souls/spirits…faults…meaning of life?

Yes, I know that argument is age old…even Socrates and Plato complained about the same thing. So I guess producing two human beings who are deep thinkers is a great accomplishment…perhaps my greatest.

The thing was…when he sent me the link to that song…I passed it by. Ozzy Osbourne? I don’t like his music. He bites the heads off of chickens. What could he possibly have to say to me?

And the mother I was all those years ago would NOT have listened. But the woman I am today…thanks in large part to PanKwake…did. Though, I am ashamed to admit…Artist had to remind me a second time.

And I loved it. It is an amazing song. And yes, not at all what I would expect from Ozzy.

But like PanKwake, my son forced me to face my own prejudices. To grow and learn…from two thousand miles away.

The truth is…I love spending time talking to the two of them more than my ‘successful’ offspring. Their minds see things that others miss. They think deeper. And I am proud of that. No matter what their ‘reading’ level.

We are sadly mistaken when we judge someone’s ‘intelligence’ based solely on measures of literacy and numeracy. Is that intelligence? Yes. BUT it is only ONE measure of it.

As the UNCRC (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child) says:

Article 29 (goals of education)
Education must develop every child’s personality, talents and abilities to the full.

Sorry, Kirsty Williams, Education Secretary for Wales, and Sally Holland, Children’s Commissioner, but no mention what so ever of literacy or maths.

By this standard of their human rights, schools are miserably failing our #neurodivergent #LittleHumans. But these people would demand that home educators follow National Curriculum (Lib Dem platform) and submit to annual visits or more frequent so that the educators who failed our #LittleHumans can JUDGE our provision…and threaten to put them back into the schools where they were bullied?

Our #LittleHumans live in fear of you.

Be clear…this is NOT for the sake of the children. It is politics. Headline grabbing politics to pick what they believe is low hanging fruit…a minority and misunderstood population. To divert those people who do NOT think for themselves. The ones that are the product of their schools…from the real headlines…poverty/austerity, Brexit, and politics as usual.

The truth is…we are to be feared. Because we, especially the unschoolers among us, are producing DEEP THINKING human beings who will hold politicians accountable, who are confident enough to change this world, who can and already do lead their peers.

So after I finished chatting online to the artist, I went downstairs and was talking to our builder…the man practically lives @HomeCrazzyHome. He is working on PanKwake’s music room right now. For the past eighteen months, this man has witnessed the power of #RadiCoolUnschooling first hand. We were talking about it all. And I mentioned that PanKwake was a leader among her peers…that she would not…could not have been had she been left to the bullying that she was already experiencing in reception. What he said gobsmacked me…

She is not just a leader, but she is a helper too. 

He is right, of course. PanKwake does not lead by bullying but by enabling and empowering all among her peers to do what they can…whatever that may be. It is a lesson that schools and educators could learn.

No, Ms. Williams, we cannot all agree that literacy and numeracy are ‘suitable education’. The UNCRC does NOT say so. And neither does case law…but that is another blog for another day.

And more importantly…Artist and PanKwake show that literacy and maths is not all their is to education…intelligence…or success.

(PS…PanKwake’s video is made in line with Articles 5, 12, 13, and 14 of the UNCRC. It is HER message and life’s work.)


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