Friday, April 20, 2007

Reading Thomas Armstrong's "In Their Own Way"

I generally have several books I'm reading at any given time, and since Armstrong will be speaking in July at The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers conference, I'm trying to catch up. I'm still working on "Awakening Your Child's Natural Genius," but I recently got "In Their Own Way" through inter-library loan, so I feel I've got to read it right away. I'm in the beginning of chapter 5 right now.

In chapter 1, Armstrong notes, in discussing children with "learning disabilities," that

"Nowhere in this litany of deficit, disability, and disease is there the recognition that these children may learn very well in their own way. This is because few researchers have bothered to look at how these youngsters learn best."
I have heard, and read on homeschooling lists, of so many cases where a child who was labeled in school with a learning disability, or with ADD, had a complete, or very noticeable, turnaround after the parents pulled him/her out in order to homeschool, instead. Parents see the strengths of their children, and because they're not limited to traditional teaching methods, they can encourage them in those areas. Their children aren't made to feel stupid or slow, or different from other kids. They are usually able to make great strides in areas they were having trouble with in school, because the pressure is off, and their specific learning style can be used to their advantage.

Chapter 2 discusses 8 types of intelligences, identified by Dr Howard Gardner at Harvard University (in his revised edition of "Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons," Gardner expands them to 9 types). It was enlightening to read that children who are strong in spatial intelligence may end up labeled as dyslexic or learning disabled
"because of their problems decoding words. They may approach words in the same way that they relate to pictures--as interesting visual images--and rotate them in their minds when writing them down."
Armstrong also believes that many children labeled ADD/ADHD may have a high degree of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. They need to be active in order to learn. But that really doesn't make them good candidates for typical schools.

Ok, I'm going to stop here for now, because the next chapter deals with testing, and I'm sure I'll have lots to comment on!

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