Education Technology and Changes

When we examine our classroom education, what do we continually see? One task and a class of 30 students following instructions. How about the kids who finish the tasks early or are not challenged enough? What about those who need more time on completing tasks and are always behind in class? Imagine a way where both types of students could complete a task in their own way and time.

Education technology that caters to each specific student’s learning style is the cutting-edge need. Currently, IBM is testing such software programs within Georgia’s education sector. Take a peek at their video.

Today, technology has been increasing differential learning within the classroom and aiding teachers. Furthermore, imagine the potential growth of every student because of smart technology. Students with a “learning disability” would no longer need special education since technology can support and empower all learners. It could also supply education to all areas of the world as long as there is a computer nearby. It could even turn what we know of schools today into a completely different system. Or even remove teachers and schools to a certain degree. With such technology and other technology appearing in the future, what will become of our education system? How much will it change and what will change?

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Being Dyslexic is a Trend?

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Dyslexia is becoming trendy in publications.

NY Times

  • 10-15% U.S. Population is dyslexic (If 15%, that is about 45 million people)
  • 5 out of 100 students are recognized as being Dyslexic
  • 2 million dyslexic students attend public school
  • 20% dyslexic students drop out of school
  • 67% graduate with a regular diploma

Dyslexia International

  • 10% of the world’s population is dyslexic (5% -17% range)
  • 700 million people are dyslexic

Telegraph

  • 10% of the UK’s population is dyslexic
  • 6 million people are dyslexic

Some might say dyslexia is a deformity in the brain; however, I challenge that. It is not a deformity. It is a way one thinks. Being dyslexic means “I think outside the box” and “My brain focuses on the bigger picture”. There is no deformity. Just because one hates to be detailed oriented means there is something wrong with their brain? How come those who are not dyslexic have a hard time focusing on the bigger picture versus the gritty details? Should we label them too? It’s a new generation. We need to understand that when we label, we are trying to categorize something complex; however, in reality, labels only hurt and should not be used as a growth mechanism.

Can I guess?

One of my students was taking a math formal assessment in my classroom. Usually, the assessment is taken in a general education class; however, this particular student requires double time on all exams. While he was testing, he said something that brought back a lot of memories –> “I don’t know what any of these questions are asking. This exam makes me feel stupid and I will never do well on them. Can I guess?”

When I was his age, I would say the same thing to myself. I mean really… what is the point of these formal exams if the questions are geared to trick students to score lower? In reality, it aggravates students with a learning “disability” because they feel like they will never perform well on assessments. The additional issue is that the stigma of not being a good test taker happens so early in life. When it is time for college, the idea of always doing bad on assessments is in the back of the head of the individual. In return, a lower confidence begins to creep in during the assessment and even before. This usually follows with receiving a low score.

Assessments can disable students. Think about it. When we diagnose a student with a “Learning Disability”, it’s based off of a text assessment’s results. We also use test based formal assessments to diagnose a child’s grade level. As long as a student is a great test taker, then the student will be able to attend the top universities and receive the best jobs. However, what about those who cannot perform well on exams? A reduced chance of attending any university and experiencing their dream job. It is a system that is failing those with different abilities and promoting those with same abilities. The issue here is our current system promotes detailed and in the box thinkers (followers) versus the out-of-the-box thinkers. The out-of-the-box thinkers  are being crushed  and labeled with having a disability within our current system. It is important to note it is those with different abilities that innovate and change the world.

So, why do we make people suffer through assessments that only prove a person’s test taking ability and not intelligence? Why do we punish those who are the out of the box thinkers? Yet, reward those who think within the box?

Inner Rebellion

I once read that people with disabilities tend to be rebellious.

I’ll admit it — I HATE SCHOOL. I really detest studying. I feel caged in an imaginary bubble. I hate sitting in class and listening to lectures for over an hour. I get annoyed by classmates that basically repeat what they read as if they have experienced it. I hate teachers who promote students who memorize page after page of text instead of praising students who think outside of the text. I hate sitting in classrooms where teachers cold call on me. I feel like professors can live in a bubble world within words and pages of research.  I especially hate exams and assignments that are asking me to repeat what I was taught.

I love experiencing the world. Touching everything around me. Smelling different scents. Smiling at strangers. Hugs. Tasting incredible foods. Living on the edge. Experimenting  –>to learn everything in life. I am a searcher of experiencing everything. I want to live and breathe and learn with all senses.

I love to daydream… especially in class. When I attended UCDavis, I hated the bubble academic world. I wanted to experience freedom and see,feel, taste, hear and smell the world. Instead when attending college, I was in a classroom learning about professors’ research on developing countries and humanitarian issues. These professors never actually grew up in a developing country and were lecturing on the issues of living there. At times they would make out as if a developing country was backwards because of the country’s culture was different from the west. I would read countless of articles of statistics. Yet, none contained human stories and or images. It was a bubble, which I felt sucked the life out of me. I had to flee this terrible entrapment. I did. I double my course load and left my junior year.

After UCDavis, I lived for the first time. I traveled the world. I was able to release all senses to gain knowledge of how the world works and how much I love living and breathing everyday. However, it dawned on me that I should probably return to school and receive a Master’s degree because I wanted to change the world.

I went to the University of Edinburgh. Once again, I lived and breathed a different world. Yet, when attending classes, I hated it. The feeling of being chained came back. The papers, reading, ridiculously long lectures, exams… dear god, I needed to escape. I decided to leave the bubble on a research project. A project that would expose the world to a real issue, not on a theory. I went to Guatemala for children who live in poverty and attend school. I learned so much within two weeks of being there than one year in school. When I completed my research, I had to start writing the dissertation. The chains came back on.

Finally, I was free again after the submitting the paper. I was able to witness life around me once again. Yet, I am stuck once again. I am stuck at work (school district) and school(another master degree). I feel trap and unable to be or feel free. I feel like I am being forced to become a follower and not a changer. Suffocation 24/7 to squeeze all of me to fit into a box.  So what should I do? Tame the rebellious side? Or start a change?

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200 million victims

According to UNICEF, 200 million children (10% of the world’s young people) are born with a learning or physical disability or become disabled before the age of 19. That’s 200 million children today who are targeted by abusers and become victims of violence. Violence that stems from stigmas, negative traditional beliefs and pure ignorance. This continues since there is a lack of social support, education opportunities, work opportunities and community. Communities tend to further isolate the families that have learning or physical disabled children since the children are seen as a black omen. Some reasoning stems from cultural and religious beliefs that  if a child is born with a disability, it is due to a sin that was a previous incarnation or family members have sinned, such as the parents.

The issue of stigma and prejudice towards those with a learning or physical disability is worldwide. Those who are considered disabled are at least 1.7 times more likely to become a victim of physical, sexual or emotional abuse at home, the community, institutional settings, and in the office than non-disabled peers. The violence increases the already existing social, educational and economic marginalization. In return, learning or physical disabled children are more likely to never fulfill their dreams and aspirations. Instead, they become outcasts by their communities and increases their chances of never attending school or becoming homeless (1/3rd of street children have a learning or physical disability).

Sadly, violence towards those with learning or physical disabilities is hardly ever discussed. It is an issue that is usually kept under the carpet.  In return, without the discussion the number of victims will remain or increase. It is time to have an open dialogue on such a serious matter. For there are many innocent children who are being killed for being different. This needs to end now.

“Opps… I’m Dyselexic”

Have you ever heard someone say “Opps…I’m Dyslexic,” when the individual made a mistake? I hear this at least once a month by teachers, professors (who teach Special Education), students, parents, friends and family. However, none of these individuals are Dyslexic. Instead the line is used as a self-put down. It’s a comment that can be offensive to those with a learning disability, such as my students or myself.

When bringing the nature of this statement into a conversation, people just say that I cannot take a joke. In return, anger begins to boil. How can someone just say take it as a joke? In reality, my students suffer on a daily basis for being a different learner. How would you like if someone who did not have HIV joked about being HIV positive? Not so funny now is it?

The problem is those with learning disabilities do not show any visual deformity; therefore, can stay hidden with a heavy invisible stigma, which can cause low self-confidence. It also allows the individual to stay hidden to fit in with others.  When someone has a learning disability hears  “Opps…I’m Dyslexic,” it reinforces a belief of being incompetent. In return, people like my students and myself, stay silent and try not to show any offense.

So next time, you or someone say “Opps…I’m Dyslexic,” please spread this posting. Let us stop the hurting of my students and others.

Also stop any jokes about those who suffer with Dyslexia… like below:

Instead of laughing and making jokes … think of the below images instead.

To sum up  –> Being Dyslexic is not a funny matter and should not be used as a punchline.