Archive for July, 2015

Let’s see, where to begin? There are a lot of things that I could ask them, and I’m sure the answer(s) to any one of these questions would be enormously enlightening, perhaps not in terms of helping my situation now, but definitely in terms of gaining an insight into the attitudes, beliefs, or training (or lack of it) that led to such a car crash in my formal education.

For starters, it would be interesting to ask my Infant’s school teachers why, since my tested reading and general aptitude scores would have been placed on my school record, they thought it would be a great idea to keep me in a class with age peers who were only just learning to read. How did they think that I was going to learn anything in such a classroom?

Who made this choice – was it the class teacher, the headmistress, the school governors, the educational psychologist or someone at the local education authority who decided that I should be kept with my age group when I was clearly already reading like an adult? Why my parents not involved or consulted, and why was no copy of the test report(s) provided to them?

If I had been referred for testing in the first place because I was being bullied or mobbed and socially excluded, why was nothing done about that? And if the reason for my lack of social fit was the fact that I was academically about a zillion light years away from what other 5 and 6 year olds were capable of, then who thought it would be a good idea for me to be kept in an environment where those kids could just keep on dishing it and dishing it and never be held accountable for their actions?

It would be interesting to ask them why I had been sent for a second round of testing about three years after the first battery. If I had been tested at around 6 years of age and been exposed as an extreme outlier, to put it mildly, then whose decision was it to have me tested again as a 9 year old, and what observations were the basis for this referral? Was it again concerns over bullying and isolation, and if so, why still had nothing been done about this? Or was it because of concerns that I was coasting along and not achieving in class, and if that was the case, why still were no effective interventions being taken?

Again, I could ask why no copy of the report had been supplied to my parents, why no educational interventions were instituted, and why no one apparently had the expertise to understand the statistical rarity of a kid that just blew the ceiling off every test, and what the implications of this were. Why did no one connect the dots and see that none of my needs were being met, either educationally or socially? Why was the only intervention that was ever made a scolding for not making an effort? Who thought that in the circumstances this was appropriate, and why?

I could ask why teachers at my secondary school thought it would be appropriate, instead of seeking to find out what was going on, to simply repeatedly move me down a set, apparently in reprisal for lack of connection and engagement with the lessons, for various subjects. Why did it not occur to anyone that someone with the ability to do no work the whole term to somehow know the material anyway was unlikely to be “move down a set” material? Whose decision was this, and what was the exact rationale behind it? How was this supposed to make me feel motivated, especially when the cycle of underachievement and working well below my capacity was by this stage already well entrenched? Did it ever occur to anyone at the school that there might have been better ways to handle the situation?

I could ask them why they thought it was acceptable to let me believe that we were in mixed ability sets for our GCE subjects, and that classes wouldn’t be sorted into who would be taking ‘O’ Level and who would be taking CSE (or no exam at all) until much nearer the time, when in fact we had already been earmarked for one or the other right at the beginning of the syllabus. Why do this only to drop a bombshell up to 6 weeks before exam time that I had been following the “wrong” syllabus, when it was too late for my parents to get involved and complain?

Whose decision was it to enter me into so few exams that my post-16 educational choices were strictly limited, and going to university at the “usual” age now an impossibility?

I’m sure the answers to any or all of these, if it were possible to put them to the people concerned, would reveal a whole raft of ignorance, whacky political beliefs and petty prejudices.

However, for me, the $64,000 dollar question would be what did these teachers and their cronies imagine that I was going to do afterwards? What was I supposed to do upon leaving school with so little to show for 12 years of captivity?

Did they imagine that, if I struggled to fit in with age peers in a regular classroom, that I would simply easily get an ordinary job as a secretary, waitress or sales assistant and live happily ever afterwards? Did they class getting a job –¬†any job – as a success?

What I needed then, as I do now, is for my extraordinary nature to be valued and abilities appropriately utilized, not thrust into situations where at best I wouldn’t have a chance to shine and at worst sink into oblivion.

Instead of having a helping hand when I was too young to make those choices, I have been fought every inch of the way. I have had to defend myself, advocate for myself, promote myself, and waste precious time trying to get a foot in the door somewhere, when that shouldn’t have needed to be my business to do that – I should have been getting on with what I do best.

What rankles the most isn’t that others have had an easier time getting ahead and been given opportunities in life that I’ve never heard of, but that possibly the¬†defining characteristic of people who have been given these opportunities is that when I say anything about what has happened and start asking pointed questions, they can’t understand what the problem is.

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