Posts Tagged ‘destroying the evidence’

“Destroying False Evidence!” – Doc Meek


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“Destroying False Evidence!” – Doc Meek

Children in school very early on make the culturally-induced mistake of thinking that their school marks and their report card marks are a measure of their intelligence.

This false perception proves to be a minor error for some children and a major life-crippling error for others. What?

Report cards can be life-crippling instruments?

Yes, because the children (and society at large) believe–falsely–that the report card is an accurate measure of the child’s intelligence. Or at least an accurate measure of the child’s effort. Or both.

Thus a poor report card reflects on the child in two negative ways. It is thought that the report card marks prove that the child is either smart or not smart, or is making a good effort or is not making a good effort.

Locked in like a death grip

How can a good report card mislead a child?

The stories of well-educated and smart people–on the basis of their school marks–who fail in the workplace and/or in life are legion.

Some children brought to see me at THE LEARNING CLINIC are so locked into the false evidence of the report card that these children—on the basis of their report cards from school—believe they are both stupid and lazy.

I am certain the school does not intend to teach children that they are stupid and/or lazy.

What is to be done?

Sometimes drastic measures are necessary to demonstrate dramatically to the child that there is a solid disconnect between a school report card and their own intelligence and effort.  

One child brought to me (let’s call him Harold, not his real name) had spent the first 4 or 5 years in elementary school and still had not learned to read.

Harold’s report cards were abysmal. And Harold felt dismal.

Both stupid and lazy?

Harold felt—and knew it was true—he was both stupid and lazy.

Harold’s father—a very frustrated and very angry parent—thankfully was convinced that everybody was missing something important. He just didn’t know what it was.

Harold’s father said he had positive out-of-school evidence that Harold was very smart.

Harold could not see it. He was adamant that he was stupid and lazy. His report cards proved it. All D’s and F’s for years.

The father was equally adamant that there was a solution. He insisted that I find a way to “get to the bottom of this mess!”

Soaring and crashing

 So the father found a reading buddy for Harold and I taught them both how to use specific strategies to overcome the worst aspects of Harold’s inability to read—his dyslexia as some would call it.

Dyslexia is just a label—a label for observed reading difficulties. There are as many different kinds of dyslexia as there are children.

Both Harold and Tom (not his real name) practiced a specific strategy faithfully together for 15 minutes every day and reported back to me on Saturdays. They would then continue that same strategy for another week, or learn a new strategy.

These strategies were of all kinds: intellectual, visual, auditory, emotional, kinesthetic, beliefs, etc. We used the whole body and the whole mind. All happy and hopeful strategies. (For detailed specifics, see The Gift of Dyslexia, by Ronald Davis.)

Harold loved it. He was succeeding for the first time at mental tasks.

All went reasonably well and Harold’s marks at school soared. Finally Harold’s work at school was going so well that the reading pair stopped reporting to me weekly.

This is usually a good sign.

Crashed and crushed

 Then one day Harold and his father arrived at my office like a great wind.

Father was in high dudgeon and Harold was so hang-dog I was very concerned for him. He looked even more defeated than when I saw him the first time in my office.

“What’s the matter?” I ventured.

Dad shoved a report card into my hands. Harold had just brought it home from school the day before.

I glanced at it. Mostly D’s and F’s. I quickly set the report card aside.

Dad explained that he had gone to the school to complain. The school explained that it was a mathematical averaging thing. They explained that Harold’s recent good marks were mathematically overwhelmed by the multitude of bad marks previously. It was school policy to average marks over time.

You would think that someone might have had the courage (or simply the common sense) to ignore the bad past and put the present good into place on a suffering kid’s  report card. It is, after all, just a piece of paper, right?

Sometimes it is imperative to ignore “standard policy” or “standard practice” and remember the first purpose of education is to serve the child, not worship some mathematical algorithm.

 Drastic measures needed

 I tried reasoning with Harold:

“But look, you and Tom practiced those reading strategies faithfully every day and you know you learned to read quite well. You know you were reading quite well! Your Dad knows it. Your teacher knows it. And I know it and you know it. Right?”

Harold was unmoved. Locked in total despair. The report card proved he was right–he was stupid and lazy, just like always.

I grabbed the report card, shook it in front of Harold’s face, and roared, “Who cares what they think! You know better!”

I stood up, tore the report card to pieces, and hurled the pieces into the far corner of the office.

Dad was startled (to say the least).

Harold was impressed!

The evidence was destroyed right in front of him 

Report cards had been the bane of his existence ever since he had started school.

An instrument of torture, defeat and proof of stupidity.

All that evidence—gone to wrack and ruin in the far corner of my office.

The vital necessity of keeping hope alive (at all costs)

So Harold sent back to school with high hope in his heart, and with his confidence in the truth of report cards decimated forever.

Wouldn’t you know it? Harold continued to thrive in school. 😮

 Doc Meek, Learning Specialist

Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA, Fri, May 30, 2014

.EPILOGUE: A couple of days later, Dad arrived in my office alone, looking a little sheepish. “I need to sign that report card and take it back to the school,” he said. I was hoping he would aid and abet the demise of the report card, but he just couldn’t do it.

Fortunately the caretaker had not made his usual rounds to clean up my office.

So there we were in my office, a couple of guys gathering up pieces of report card, and scotch taping them back together like some weird puzzle. 😮

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