So, I’ve been rather absent from bloggery lately due to spending evenings sorting through vast boxes of paper archives, moving books, applying for jobs to keep a roof over our heads, or attempting to sleep off this virus. I now have removed a cubic meter of paperness from our house, and transferred a few hundred books from one room to another. I still have the virus (or maybe a second one, as our students have not the best hygiene), but not the second job.
(Now, if anyone is looking for an experienced secondary or college tutor or after-school care for special-needs children, let me know via andreasbuzzing care of my gmail account.)
But aside from all that, there have been some thought-provoking ups and downs in the news that I don’t want to let pass before they become “olds”:
In an brief article in the New York Times, researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine studied some 11,000 third-grade students, and found that recess helps improve behavioral problems, and that many children don’t get enough recess. We would all expect this to be in the category of “no shit!” news, but we also know that such assumptions don’t officially exist until someone has done a decent study proving such. So there you are: give your students recess before we all go Nutz, and don’t deprive them of recess as a punishment!
Moving right along … as reported in the Orange County Register, Connie Kasari, an educational psychologist at UCLA discovered that six weeks of social skills training with autistic children does not help tremendously, but that what does help is … (get this) … teaching their typical peers how to be good friends. Basically, one cannot heap the onus of the social adaptation upon the autistic child, because they do not socialise in a vaccuum. Gee, imagine that!
On the other hand, I observed from a flashy piece on CNN.com, that if you call education “therapy”, then you can charge as much as $20,000 a week. Also, if you package a promotional piece as an amazing and heart-wrenching news story, you can get lots of high-exposure press. ($20,000 a week! Wow, that’s more than I make in a year; I must be doing something wrong.)
Totally unrelated to the realm of special education is this from the UK. The notoriously homophobic Westboro Baptist Church aims to picket at a production of The Laramie Project being done in Hampshire. The Telegraph chose to offer paper pulp space for Shirley Phelps-Roper, who went on for a number of paragraphs in this vein:
But your goofy queen and her adulterous whore of a son – YIKES put their hand and you all put your hands to mischief at every turn.
The antichrist is sitting now, in the Whitehouse, the time is SO SHORT – the Lord is coming and this generation is DOOMED!
Fortunately the BBC reassures us that the UK Border Agency isn’t letting members of the WBC into the country.
“Both these individuals have engaged in unacceptable behaviour by inciting hatred against a number of communities.
“We will continue to stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country.
“The exclusions policy is targeted at all those who seek to stir up tension and provoke others to violence regardless of their origins and beliefs.”
I would like to extend my apologies as an American to the entire United Kingdom: I’m sorry our country manages to produce such bilious twits, and thank you for helping hold up the front against extremists.
Speaking of the BBC, apparently there are some parents who just can’t deal with the idea that a children’s show host only has one hand:
Nine official complaints have so far been lodged with the BBC – plus many more blog postings – about 29-year-old children’s television presenter Cerrie Burnell, who was born with only one hand. Parents have complained that they cannot let their children watch her because the sight will “possibly cause sleep problems”, that she is scaring toddlers, and that they are being forced to discuss the issue of disability with their offspring before they are ready.
I’m not familiar with the show(s) being referred to as we watch the BBC programmes for adults. But to be honest, even after glancing over the photograph, I had to read the text of the story to find out just what the foofaraw was about, because a one-handed person is just not that bizarre. (Uncommon, yes. Bizarre, no. Easier for the faceblind person to identify, very much so.) As editorialist Lucy Mangan points out, it’s not the children who are having problems, it’s the parents.
Young children are not inherently scared of disability and difference, merely curious. Furthermore, providing simple explanations is all that’s necessary, because for small children, everything in the world is novel. Novel, and more often than not, interesting instead of scary … just ask Dave Hingsburger.
So in the end, what’s the point to all these stories? That there are foolish, mean-hearted people everywhere, and we needn’t give in to them. And that children need to play, and to be taught how to be good friends with each other. Epecially so they grow up to be adults who know how to be friends with each other.
buzzing off to tend to her own beeswax