"Bad education seeks to make the child something other than him or herself"by Charles Foster / July 25, 2016 / Leave a comment
“Come in,” said a well-known educational psychologist. She’d spent the afternoon testing our son, Tom, who was then six. “Well,” she said, “he’s highly intelligent.” We braced ourselves for the “but.” She didn’t cushion it. “He’s also severely dyslexic.”
I was delighted. Tom had always had a dazzlingly holistic view of the world. He saw connections and context where I saw only atomistic entities. For him, the world was an ecstatically vibrating web of relationship. His own relationships with leaves and stones were immediate, intense and accepting—at least relatively unmediated by the words we use to describe those things, and the concepts conjured by the words. If I walk into a wood I don’t hear the wind or the birdsong: they’re drowned out by deafening cognitive tinnitus. It’s been decades since I’ve seen a tree rather than my idea of a tree. My ideas of trees are far less boring than trees themselves, and only distantly related to them. Tom saw trees all the time. He was an epistemological aristocrat. And since he was dyslexic, and always would be, he’d never lose his aristocracy. My candidates for Philosopher King are all dyslexic.
As I cheered, my wife, who is less dangerously romantic and much more prescient and sensible, wept. She saw, as I did not, that Tom would have to live in our grey, nerdish, reductionist world; that he would be seen there not as a prodigy but a dunce; as a blunderer, not a visionary. And that’s what she said. My reaction was ridiculous: “…