Maysoon Zayid + Thoughts on Special Education

Earlier this week Maysoon Zayid’s TED talk (“I Got 99 Problems… Palsy Is Just One”) came up on my twitter feed… and I’m still thinking about it.  If you have fifteen minutes to spare, please watch it: 

http://embed.ted.com/talks/maysoon_zayid_i_got_99_problems_palsy_is_just_one.html

Click here for a full transcript.

My brain keeps mulling over the same two questions:

1) Do I accommodate and modify curriculum to make it easier for students, or do I do it so that all students “can can” access the learning that they should have?  

2) Are we including the right people in conversations around special education?

I love the part of Maysoon’s talk where she recounts how her father taught her to walk:

My father taught me how to walk when I was five years old by placing my heels on his feet and just walking… by the first day of kindergarten, I was walking like a champ who had been punched one too many times.”

I don’t imagine that any of this happened quickly.  I imagine her father to be a busy man that patiently practiced with his daughter whenever he had time.  He did it over and over again.  Some days it probably worked better, and some days it didn’t.  But, together, they kept on practicing.

“Big picture” and “long-term” are so important to all learning.  In this case I definitely agree with the ministry when they say a “special education program is defined as an educational program that is based on and modified by the results of a continuous assessment and evaluation of the pupil”.  Check in as much as possible, for as long as possible.  

As far as the conversations around special education go… why don’t we ever involve students?  I’m sure many teachers discuss Individual Education Plans with their students, but why aren’t student voices heard when the plan is being written?  We consult with a variety of specialists and the student’s parents to tell us how they need to be taught.  Why don’t we ask the actual students?  Why isn’t a student interview a mandatory part of the creation of an IEP?  Why do we decide on another person’s educational needs without consulting them?

So much to think about.

Thank you Maysoon for sharing your story.

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