Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Don't tell them there's something wrong with them

This American Life has a story on Mosaic Downs Syndrome. A particular mother of a child told his K teacher he had this. When she visited the class, her child was being allowed to lie on the floor isolated while every other child sat in a circle for a story. From that point on, Mom never told anybody what was up. Her son has an IQ of 110 and got A's and B's. He finally pressed her when he was 13 or 14 years old and months after he first asked, she told him.

If we were the kind of people that treated all individuals as individuals, we wouldn't need to hide things like this. But we are not. There are old studies where some teachers were told that their classes were "gifted," while other teachers were not. The classes were not gifted, they were the usual mix of vagabonds and knaves you find in any class. The classes where the teachers were told the kids were gifted all scored higher by the end of the year.