"Here, take this and calm down."
I can remember being a student in elementary school years ago. I couldn’t sit still or focus on anything the teacher was pontificating on in their monotone voices. I started school at a strict Catholic school and my only fond memories are of recess and gym class mainly because it was then that my mind opened and let the learning do its thing.
Don’t get me wrong, I remember some other things like Suzanne (my first girlfriend), getting into trouble for throwing snowballs at the bus and my third grade teacher Mrs. McDermott but any academic is completely wiped from my mental hard drive. I attest this to the way I learn--both then and now.
Chris Rock had a bit years ago about the way we perceived kids twenty years back and earlier as compared to now. Today, if a child cannot sit still during class he or she has AD/HD and is often medicated while back then the kid was just excited. He goes into much more detail with some colorful language but you see the point. In today's world if a child cannot sit still and focus then he or she must suffer some ailment and needs medical attention and or therapy.
I read once a great story about a lady named Gillian Lynne and her struggle with learning in school that really struck a chord.
Gillian’s mother was called by the principal of the school and asked to meet with him about her behavior because he thought she may have had a learning disability. See, the problem was, little Gillian was not able to stay in her seat. She was fidgety. Today she would be diagnosed with AD/HD but Gillian was in school in the 1930’s and AD/HD had not been invented yet.
Gillian’s mother took her to a doctor to see if they could findout what was wrong with her. She sat in a room for twenty minutes while her mother and the doctor spoke about what Gillian was doing and what her challenges were. Towards the end of the meeting the doctor asked her mother to speak in private so he turned the radio on for Gillian and walked out with her mom and said “watch this”.
As the music played Gillian began to dance with brilliant passion. The doctor turned to her Mom and said “Mrs. Lynne, Gillian doesn’t have a learning disability, she’s a dancer.” So, Gillian’s mother took her to a dance school where she flourished.
She later went on to dance as a soloist for the Royal Ballet in England, started her own dance school called the Gillian Lynne Dance Company and choreograph theatrical works like ‘Cats’ and ‘Phantom of the Opera’.
Many children need to move to think. They are unable to sit, listen, recite and retain like others. Back then Gillian was encouraged to dance and move and follow her passion. She has created some of the most remarkable and successful musical theater productions in history, has touched countless lives through dance and is a multi-millionaire. Today, I find it hard to believe that someone wouldn’t put her on medication and tell her to calm down.
Here is my point, our children are being diagnosed with ailments and conditions that are based upon their learning styles in an education system that was created over a century ago. Getting kids moving, enabling them to learn the way they learn is the way for true success for each individual.
Let’s get these kids moving and find or create environments that cater to learning needs rather than a system that has the end goal of putting numbers on the standardized testing scoreboard.
Let’s encourage our children to learn about things that are useful to them and their environment and stop forcing them to sit still and regurgitate information only to forget the majority of what they once held in their minds.
Let’s give each child the attention they need to become who they really are inside. They will one day be taking care of all of us when we’re in wheelchairs and hospital beds. Better be nice to them now.
And let’s stop unnecessarily medicating certain children because they don’t conform to a particular education system.
Master Lonnie Beck
Owner, Dragon Gym