Is Labelling kids with special needs is counterproductive.
As a former supply (substitute teacher, I had the privilege to work in over 50 schools.
This experience covered both primary and secondary schools, which gave me a fantastic insight into the attitudes of many children.
One thing I noticed was that some children would use their special needs statement, as a reason why they could not attempt a new piece of work.
One such example was a year five girl, who stated that she could not start a maths task because she had been told she was dyslexic!
With encouragement, and a clear explanation of the task, she was able to start and complete the task, however, this initial reluctance to start was concerning.
It could well be that she needed further task explanation and support, but she was quick to define her abilities to attempt a task, by her ‘statement’.
Whilst I am not saying that we shouldn’t put support in place to maximise student attainment potential, there is the danger that students can start to identify themselves, by the educational ‘label’ they have been given.
Why are we trying to get fish to climb trees?
Fish are brilliant swimmers (except dead fish), but generally lousy tree climbers.
We as human beings are all unique individuals, all with valuable skills and insights, to potentially contribute to improving society.
Whilst we are all one species, we do differ in many ways, compared to other species.
Do you know any greyhounds with dyslexia, or chimpanzees with ADHD?
As human beings, we are all brilliant and talented, but in schools sometimes it seems like we are trying to get fish to climb trees.
I say that we are trying to get fish to climb trees because surely ADHD or any other educational label is just trying to understand and fix, the fact that children are different.
We are trying to get all children to fit into a narrow definition of success, within the school environment.
Attempting to get all children to achieve in a narrow definition of success, suits schools & Ofsted, but not children.
We are surely failing our children’s mental health and self-esteem if we are forcing them to be something they are not.
Whilst we can argue about the relative influences of nature versus nurture on a child’s development, the fact is that we have natural abilities and talents, not to mention interests.
A potential new approach to schools
We have the opportunity to creatively redesign schools for the future of society.
Primary school should be about discovering & nurturing a child’s passions and interests, not getting stressed taking SATS tests.
If a child shows an early interest in music, then tailor a personalised education plan around music.
I’m not saying forget maths and English, but these can be made relatable to the child’s core interest (s).
Childhood should be a joyous experience of personal discovery, not an attempt to fit in to a narrow range of learning criteria.