The Gift of Struggling Students

As a teacher, the greatest gift I have been given is students who do not think like me. The students who are most different from me have taught me the most. They have stretched me to look from new perspectives, to see the world from new angles and by doing so have taught me more than any of my "formal" education.

In today's culture, we often think of students who do not think or learn in a manner which is measurable on a standardized test as learning disabled. Today, I had the honor of attending a lecture by Temple Grandin. Dr. Grandin has been nominated one of the 100 most influential people in the world. She has changed how cattle are treated and is a prominent animal researcher. She also has autism. She challenged us to consider how we need different types of minds and how some of the very aspects of her "disability" are part of her gift that have enabled her to be a positive force in making the world a better place.

I would never have written Uncovering the Logic of English or developed Logic of English curriculum without having taught students who have struggled to learn to read and spell. It is by teaching them that I have learned more about spelling, reading, speech, and teaching than I would ever have learned without them.

My students have taught me that patterns are important. They have provided me with an excitement about finding the patterns which describe English and help me to spell words. These students have taught me to consider how reading intersects with speaking, writing, and kinesthetic experience. My auditory students made me aware of voiced and unvoiced sounds, for I had never paid attention. My visual students have taught me the value of color for memory. My kinesthetic students have taught me that speaking has kinesthetic components and that we can discuss where the tongue is placed and how the visual cue is not only a cue of a sound but an action of tongue and lips. My visual learners have shown diagrams of their mouths as they try to describe sounds that they were struggling to hear. My logical literal students have pointed out the weaknesses and fallacies in my explanations.

When all these learners come together, the world is a better place and we all learn in more depth and with greater insight.