Watching the documentary “The Big Picture: Re-thinking Dyslexia” could be life changing for so many…

The documentary The Big Picture: Re-thinking Dyslexia, directed by James Redford, is absolutely amazing! It’s not very often you find a film that explains everything about how you think, how the way you think impacted your life, and then propose your theories about how you feel about it now. At end of this post I’ve included two different links to to watch this movie right now for free.

This is one of the most telling, accurate, de-mystifying and just wonderful accounts of what dyslexia is, and what it feels like to have it, that I’ve come across. Unfortunate because it’s an area I should be an expert on being a veteran special education teacher with 75+ graduate units in this field, AND also experienced the confusion growing up living with dyslexia myself.

The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia

DVD cover

I have several learning disabilities that constantly make me look stupid because I suck at things most find simple. I didn’t know I wasn’t stupid until I started college and the classes were way easier than high school for me. I excelled, transferred to UC Berkeley, and now feel lucky I’m “learning disabled”. I think it’s directly related to being “extra able” in the many other more interesting & much more important ways in areas that actually matter. The stuff related to being what is considered successful in all areas of life. (The ability to do mental math, read quickly, spell good, or earn high-test scores are NOT what gets you hired at job interviews, excel and/or get promoted, make you likable in work/social settings, be of use to making your personal relationships work, or lend to the incredible satisfaction of expressing yourself creatively).

This documentary gets inside the lives of several families and shows what it is to go through life feeling so different. The top experts in the field offer explanations and discuss how different doesn’t equate to lesser. It also features many iconic leaders, CEO’s, scientists, etc. discussing growing up with dyslexia and how it affects them today. Always very powerful.

What I loved most was the theories & experiences were providing evidence that leads to understanding that all along the smart kids are the ones with “learning disabilities”. It seems like the opposite because American education system develops curriculum, delivers lessons & assesses learning for how the average majority think, not for extraordinary minds. I’ve been trying to convince teachers, parents & ESPECIALLY my students of this of for years. I wrote a thesis on how I thought genius and LD went together but it wasn’t very good. I couldn’t be more happy to know that this is where the current academic thought is going.

A MUST SEE FOR ANYONE WHO STRUGGLES WITH DYSLEXIA. It was incredible seeing what I experienced through others and knowing it’s being shared with the masses through this film. My methods of thinking, how I processes information, and other weird things I do explained and/or given ration. One of my most validating moments.

EVERY TEACHER & PARENT OF A CHILD WITH DYSLEXIA SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO WATCH THIS because they would walk away with such a deeper understanding of their child that will no doubt lesson frustrations or conflicts.

Watch The Big Picture: Re-thinking Dyslexia for free in one of the links below.

The Big Picture: Re-thinking Dyslexia documentary on YouTube

The Big Picture: Re-thinking Dyslexia on Netflix

The Edu Talk blog is a Must Read!

​The Edu Talk The Edu Talk blog is one of the best blogs about what teaching I have come across. That is saying a lot coming from one who spends way to much reading about education policy and how it relates to (or interferes with) my teaching. As a teacher who occasionally blogs about such policies, I am truly in awe of this one.

The posts include everything I once aspired mine to embody. Truth to power is articulated comprehensively, eloquently, and viewpoints are powerfully supported with evidence from personal or collective experiences, or with linked references when appropriate.

My favorite topic addressed is the same one I write about – the demise of American schools with corporate privatization of public education through the demonization of teachers by placing entire blame on any perceived failing, when in fact, they have no control over decisions made on how schools are structured, the curriculum they use, the method of delivery, content standards, what gets funded, classroom size (the amount of English Language Learners, special education, etc.), student truancy, parent support at home, “college prep for all” courses being the only ones offered outside of a few SDC for severe disabilities, demanding UC entry requirements for high school diplomas, appropriate assessment criteria (determining if a student was successful for the year using one test score), use of high stakes testing, relevancy of questions such tests… OR ANY LOCAL, STATE, OR FEDERAL POLICY.

Where I spend hours trying to word short blog entries that end up rambling on, sometimes with sarcasm or bitterness like the above, The author matter of a factly states facts, or extremely thought provoking questions, that seem to flow fluently with such mastery of the English language.

My favorite so far is called, “Motives Matter” dated May 2011. Well worth reading if you are interested in education, like reading good blogs, have school age children, or think teachers alone should be “accountable” for the problems (real or perceived) and/or the measurement of every student’s learning should be assessed using one multiple choice test score by memorizing rote facts.

“13+ Things your child’s teacher won’t tell you” Oh Really?

Reader’s Digest has a slideshow of 34 (not 13) “Things your child’s teacher won’t tell you”.

Looks like an interesting read, but no. As a veteran teacher, I had issues with several.

I found the wording on most to come across really bitchy (some outright offensive). Some are only the opinions of a few and do NOT represent collective thinking like the title makes it sound. Some are silly and clearly come from teachers who only have white affluent students. And some were just stupid. Really? Teachers secretly want to tell parents enough with the mugs and frames because we prefer gift cards. Wtf?

I think this article makes teachers sound as bad as the media makes us out to be. Less than half are really what teachers think and I’m going by 13 years of working with them, not just what I think.

So, parents, please know that some of these are crap, or would be more accurate if re-worded positive, or even lighthearted and funny.

“13+ Things Your Child’s Teacher Wont Tell You” article in Reader’s Digest

Read them yourself and tell me what you think. Especially if you teach or work with kids and agree with them. I’d love to know if it’s just me who took them the wrong way.

Rating doctors on healthy patients = teachers on state test scores

I read a comment in this article that compared evaluating teachers and doctors with the same “accountably” measures.

Teacher Development At Center Of New Center For American Progress Studies.

Rating doctors on how healthy their patients are is a perfect comparison since their patients many times come to them unhealthy in the first place.

It is the same thing as holding doctors accountabl e for how well their patients follow their medical advice or how many of their patients get cured of their ailments.

Doctors can’t force patients to lose weight or quit smoking any more than teachers can force some students to learn, or take those tests seriously or force their parents to support their child’s education (or change some of the factors that can affect low test scores like not speaking English, having a learning disability, or coming from a low socio-economic status).

School Districts Shortchange Low-Income Schools: Report

I am pleased that, as U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in the following article posted, “The facts are out there like they’ve never been before,” but these findings have been more than just “long suspected.”

School Districts Shortchange Low-Income Schools: Report.

In 1991, Jonathan Kozol detailed this in his book, Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools, that discusses the disparities in education between schools of different classes and races. It is based on his observations of various classrooms in the public school systems of East St. Louis, Chicago, New York City, Camden, Cincinnati, and Washington D.C.
His observations take place in both schools with the lowest per capita spending on students and the highest, ranging from just over $3,000 in Camden, New Jersey to a maximum expenditure of up to $15,000 in Great Neck, Long Island.
In his visits to these areas, Kozol illustrates the overcrowded, unsanitary and often understaffed environment that is lacking in basic tools and textbooks for teaching. He cites the large proportions of minorities in the areas with the lowest annual budgets, despite the higher taxation rate on individuals living in poverty within the school district.

This article states that, “Though Duncan highlighted the glaring disparities Wednesday, his administration has so far prioritized other issues — such as standards and innovation — over funding equity.”
These glaring disparities have always been known so, unfortunately, I doubt the report will alter priorities any more than Kozal’s findings did.

Michigan Senate Approves House Version Of Anti-Bullying Bill, Drops Religious Language

There is a new article in the Huffington Post related to the Michigan anti-bullying law that I blogged about last week. VICTORY!!!

Michigan Senate Approves House Version Of Anti-Bullying Bill, Drops Religious Language.

I don’t know if you have heard of this bill but Michigan passed a bill, called “Matt’s Safe School Law” that had an added clause protecting those doing the bullying if teachers and students can claim that their actions are rooted in a “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.”

I can’t express how relieved I am to know that they have altered the bill to be more appropriate. I was more freaked out by the original story than any thing I’ve read recently about education so I am celebrating the victory.

Watch the video of Senator Gretchen Whitmer if you haven’t seen it. She is my hero right now.

‘Teacher Evaluation’ : Real Agenda Appears to Be School PRIVATIZATION

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The article from the Common Dreams website, by Gloria C. Endres, ‘Teacher Evaluation’: Real Agenda Appears to Be School Privatization is a must read for anyone interested in education in the slightest bit.

After much research over the years on this subject, I can attest to THIS IS WHAT IS BEHIND MOST EDUCATION REFORM AND THE “NEED TO IMPROVE” TEACHER EVALUATIONS.

The privatization of public schools (school-choice, voucher system, etc.) would have he most damning results on education. Don’t we have enough evidence what happens when a few billionaires control an institution? Turning education into corporate profit would only serve those who would make millions from this, NOT THE STUDENTS.

Read Michelle Rhee’s Wikipedia page (I checked all the references).

The Student’s First website makes it clear what their agenda is. Although they should be commended for their anti-bully and pro LGBT stance, that is where the students coming first stops.

(You may also want to read a piece Larry Strauss wrote for The Huffington Post called, Students First and Other Lies).