David Rovner (email@example.com)
Mon, 19 Mar 2001 10:51:14 +0200
"SPECIAL EDUCATION" -- a Noble Cause
Sacrificed to standardization,
Education In America -- A View from
Sudbury Valley, p. 198
The increasing homogenization of our schools is
without doubt the chief underlying cause of their
sky-rocketing costs. Here I would like to focus on
the costliest, and most damaging, effect of
standardization: the astronomical rise in the number
of "special needs" students over the past decade.
Some perspective is needed in dealing with this ultra-
sensitive subject. For the longest time, the regular
schools did not handle children who had organic
disabilities that severely impaired their physical and/or
mental functioning. These children became pariahs;
they were relegated mostly to horrible to horrible
institutions which kept them out of the public eye
and left them unequipped to deal with life at virtually
any level. It was a mark of great enlightenment for our
culture when we collectively decided to INCLUDE,
rather than exclude, these children as part of our
society. The citizens of this country chose willingly to
go to the trouble and expense of providing a place for
such children within the educational system, and made
every effort to give them as productive a life as possible.
Simply put, that was how "special needs" education
began, and few people begrudged the extra cost of
caring for these unfortunate people who were our fellow
brothers and sisters. The criteria for accepting children
into these programs were fairly well defined in terms of
measurable dysfunctions, based on observable
physiological data -- neurological responses, neuromotor
functions, neuropsychological reactions, kinesthetic
behavior, etc. Most of the diagnoses could be related to
biological disorders that were observable under the
Then, with astonishing rapidity, something terrible
happened to this well-conceived, well-intentioned
system of "special needs education": IT BECAME A
TOOL IN THE HANDS OF AN EDUCATIONAL
SYSTEM BENT ON STANDARDIZATION. Within a
few years, teachers and counselors and school
psychologists and, ultimately, anxious parents driven to
distraction by the demands of the schools, all banded
together to make "special ed" the repository for all children
who did not fit neatly into the standard mold. Children
who in early years would have been readily integrated into
the classroom -- children who were more active than others,
or less attentive, or more interested in other things rather
than their current lessons, or who had unusual talents and
leanings, or who learned different subjects at different rates --
all these were now driven out to the standard classroom, into
special needs classes. In the relentless pursuit of sameness,
the marvelous variety of the classroom of yesteryear was
abolished, for the overriding purpose of achieving a classroom
free of distractions, containing only "good" children who were
obedient, calm, attentive, did their homework, and above all
achieved good grades on battery after battery of standard tests,
which increase in number and scope every year.
To achieve this homogenization of the classroom, all the non-
standard kids had to be "diagnosed" as having some illness,
that justified the expense of special ed. And so, in the past
decade or two, a host of new so-called disorders has arisen --
attention deficit disorder (ADD), hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),
reading disorders, cognitive disorders, and many others -- none
of which have been, or can be, traced to any physiological
dysfunction whatsoever. These pseudo-scientific diagnoses have
caused a whole generation of non-standard children to be labelled
as dysfunctional, even though they suffer from nothing more than
the disease of responding differently in the classroom than the
average manageable student. When this process of labelling and
separation is applied to adults -- as it was for several generations
in the Soviet Union -- there is a general hue and cry denouncing
such action as a malicious suppression of freedom and individual
variation. Alas, when the same process is being applied to more
and more children in our own land of the free and home of the
brave, hardly a voice is raised in protest, and those few who
object are berated for attacking the schools!
The abolition of lock-step standardization in schools, from the
earliest pre-school onward, could eliminate virtually overnight
most of the crippling costs of special education, that threaten to
entwine us in a never-ending upward spiral of demands for funds.
All that would and should remain is "special ed" as originally
conceived, providing diligently for children with real
physiologically identifiable disabilities.
As I have said over and over, what we are seeing in our schools is
the desperate behavior of educators who are seeking to keep an
obsolete and irrelevant system running. The current schools are
beset by failure and, as governments and bureaucracies always do,
they react by falling back with ever more vigor on the old formulas
that have failed. they become more restrictive, more cumbersome,
more expensive, more prone to rhetoric and flag-waving.
Meanwhile, life is passing them by, and they will either change on
their own, or history will force them to change willy-nilly.
Who can doubt this? Most of the Communist world cast-off its rigid
homogenization in a few months. Leading Japanese educators are
grappling with abandoning their fearfully confining school system,
which has produced so very little by way of original thought or
independent behavior. How long will it be before the United States,
cradle of liberty, defender of freedom, mother of creative endeavor,
casts off the shackles of its rigidly standardized schools and opens
its educational system at least to the creative influences of variety,
difference, and change?
["'SPECIAL EDUCATION' -- a Noble Cause Sacrificed
to standardization", Education In America -- A View
>From Sudbury Valley, Daniel Greenberg,
1992, P. 198.]*
* see also: "'SPECIAL EDUCATION' -- a Noble Cause
Run Amok", Education In America -- A View From
Sudbury Valley, Daniel Greenberg,
1992, P. 202-208.
Sudbury Valley School www.sudval.org
. . . At the same time, when we diagnosis and drug our
children, we avoid facing critical issues about educational
reform. In effect, we drug the children who are signaling
the need for reform, and force all children into conformity
with our bureaucratic systems . . .
. . . At the same time, we must address the needs of our
children on an individual and societal level. On the
individual level, children need more of our time and energy.
Nothing can replace the personal relationships that children
have with us as their parents, teachers, counselors, or doctors.
On a societal level, our children need improved family life,
better schools, and more caring communities. .
. . . The author urges parents, teachers, and other concerned
citizens to retake responsibility for all our children. He sees
the necessity of transforming ourselves and our society in
order to meet the needs of all of our children for meaningful
relationships with adults, as well as for unconditional love,
rational discipline, inspiring education, and play . . .
DARE to keep kids off Ritalin
David Rovner firstname.lastname@example.org
---------- Original Message ----------
Fri, 16 Mar 2001
>Here are a few resources about ADHD alternatives to Ritalin -
>including a list of books and websites. I hope someone will find it
>useful. I will eventually put links to all of the books and URLS on
>www.metagifted.org, but if someone needs them now - here you go!
>Love and Light,
>Director of Metagifted
>Books (there are more about this topic, this includes some of the best
>sellers. If you have another recommendation, please post it or send to
>"Managing the Gift: Alternative Approaches for Attention Deficit Disorder"
>by Dr. Kevin Ross Emery
>I know this author in person and have heard his intro. talk on the
>subject. He is an excellent presenter and the book is outstanding for
>understanding ADD and how it affects the physical, emotional, mental, and
>spiritual levels and methods for working with each of these levels. I
>HIGHLY recommend it.
>"Ritalin Is Not the Answer : A Drug-Free, Practical Program for Children
>Diagnosed With ADD or ADHD"
>by David B., Ph.D. Stein
>"Right Brained Children in a Left Brained World: Unlocking the Potential
>of Your ADD Child"
>by Jeffrey Freed, et. al
>"Learning to Slow Down and Pay Attention: A Book for Kids about ADD"
>by Kathleen G. Nadeau, et. al.
>"12 Effective Ways to Help your Add/ADHD Child: Drug-Free Alternatives for
>Attention Deficit Disorders"
>by Laura J. Stevens, William G. Crook
>"Healing ADD: Simple Exercises that will Change Your Daily Life"
>by Thom Hartmann, et. al.
>(an excellent author)
>"Teenagers with ADD: The Parents Guide (Special Needs Collection)"
>by Chris A. Zeigler Dendy
>"Ritalin-Free Kids : Safe and Effective Homeopathic Medicine for Add and
>Other Behavioral and Learning Problems"
>by Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman, et al
>"Parenting ADD/ADHD and Indigo Children"
>by Vikki Lawrence - On order now.. just being published!!!!
>Here are several URLs that give information on ADD and Ritalin and
>alternatives to it. I gathered this list awhile ago. Not sure that all
>links still work, but I'm sure some will!
>Google Search for ADD Alternative to Ritalin
>Vital Information About Ritalin, Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder
>and the Politics Behind the ADHD/Ritalin Movement - book excerpt (can be
>"Attention Deficit Disorder", Hyperactivity and Ritalin - Brief Overview,
>most of the links don't work tho
>Ask the naturopath - natural alternatives to Ritalin for ADD and ADHD
>recommends avoiding sugar and additives and getting a VEGA test for food
>Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology: Ritalin, Aderall, Other
>Stimulants, Further Resources
>good links here
>press release - Psychiatrist Discloses Ritalin's Hidden Dangers to
>tells why Ritalin is dangerous
>tells why Ritalin is dangerous
>Attention Deficit Disorder and ADHD... Scientifically Safe and Natural
>recommends Psycnogenol - a nutritional supplement found to help with ADD
>as well as Zinc and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
>Research study that supports that taking extra enzymes and eating whole
>foods improves attention and decreases hyperactivity in children
>diagnosed with ADD and ADHD
>I'm sure there are more, but here's a start!
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