short excerpts...other writings...upon occasion or as prompted...
The tiger in the water? A representation of my life -- spirit and environment!


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Make Your Option the Only Possible One

People quickly acquiesce when there are no other options. Getting your own way is usually as simple (and complex) as making your option the only one possible. I have watched two of my own children as middle schoolers do that quite effectively.

Each time we have moved into a new school district the tendency had been to place Noelle in special education because of her paraplegia. However, she preferred to be in regular education and was able to handle the academic work there quite well. When we moved to California from Washington in Noelle's eighth grade year, the school administration's proposal was once again to place her in special education.

When Noelle indicated her preference for regular education, the principal explained that all children who cannot walk had always been placed into special education, and, therefore, she would, too.

"Well, then," Noelle commented, "I wonder how you are going to handle the problem that comes with that placement."

When the principal asked what problem she was talking about, she said, "Clearly, I'm the one who has to go to the classroom every day, and I do not intend to go to that one." She was placed in regular education and was very happy there.

The principal met his match, as well, in her younger, gifted brother Shane, who was in her grade because he had skipped some earlier grades in school. The principal wanted to place Shane in the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program. however, Shane looked through the materials and found them unchallenging. He preferred to make his own program through the Independent Study program. Frustrated by Shane's lack of appreciation for the GATE program (and probably feeling the need to have another GATE student in the school program), the principal explained that being in the Independent Study program would bar Shane from school dances and other such activities. Shane replied that he preferred books to social activities and willingly accepted that restriction.

Seeing that his words had no effect, the principal said in a rather frustrated tone, "You don't understand! You have to have a behavior problem to get into the Independent Study program!"

Very calmly and pleasantly, Shane indicated that he would be willing to meet that entrance requirement, saying, "I could develop one if you would like." He was placed in Independent Study and was very happy there.

Noelle made her option. Obviously, no one could physically force her to go to a particular classroom on a daily basis and monitor her to be sure she stayed there all day. The alternatives to her choice were simply too cumbersome, impossible, or undesirable.

Shane also made his option the only choice. Of course, the principal did not want another child with a behavior problem. He could avoid that in only one way -- by meeting Shane's request.

These two children very much enjoyed their middle school years. Noelle learned far more in regular education than she would have learned in special education and passed the state exams just fine for regular education students. Shane immensely enjoyed his learning situation. His teacher had been a gifted education teacher in earlier years and was one of the few teachers who did not fear Shane's ability to inhale information and question assumptions. For math, the teacher asked Shane to work with a tutor from the local college because Shane learned too fast for the middle-school teachers to keep up with him. She learned incredible amounts of math that year, in addition to completing most of the high school program in other subjects -- all while being in a "punitive" program rather than the GATE program that, ironically, would have asked far less of him. It was, indeed, a good year.


Excerpted and adapted from a collection of vignettes I published, copyright 2003.

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About Me

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I am the mother of 4 birth children (plus 3 others who lived with us) and grandmother of 2, all of them exceptional children. Married for 42 years, I grew up in Maine, live in California, and work in many places in education, linguistics, and program management. In my spare time, I rescue and tame feral cats and have the scars to prove it. A long-time ignorantly blissful atheist converted by a theophanic experience to Catholicism, I am now a joyful catechist. Oh, I also authored a dozen books, two under my pen name of Mahlou (Blest Atheist and A Believer-in-Waiting's First Encounters with God).

My Other Blogs

100th Lamb. This is my main blog, the one I keep most updated.

The Clan of Mahlou
. This is background information about various members of the extended Mahlou family. It is very much a work still in progress. Soon I will begin posting excerpts from a new book I am writing, Raising God's Rainbow Makers.

Modern Mysticism. This blog discusses the mystical in our pragmatic, practical, realistic, and rational 21st century world and is to those who spend some or much of their time in an irrational/mystical relationship with God. If such things do not strain your credulity, you are welcome to follow the blog and participate in it.

Recommended Reading List

Because I am blog inept, I don't quite know how to get a reading list to stay at the end of the page and not disappear from sight. Therefore, I entered it as my first post. I suppose that is not all that bad because readers started commenting about the books, even suggesting additional readings. So, you can participate with others in my reading list by clicking here.
I do post additional books as I read them and find them to be meaningful to me, and therefore, hopefully, meaningful to you. One advantage of all the plane traveling I do is that I acquire reading time that I might not otherwise take.