You have to love Christopher’s desire for integrity. I have been tutoring this nephew of mine, a middle schooler on the autism spectrum, for a few years now. He currently lives in Texas so our work is accomplished through Hangouts.
In a recent session, I was helping Christopher with his language arts homework. He had a list of 12 words to write in sentences. Each word was 4-5 syllables long (such as ‘inconceivably’) and he hadn’t the slightest clue what any of them meant. The directions suggested that he’d encountered these in a reading assignment, but I know that Christopher is not going to learn or even hear any new words that way. To him, school is largely white noise. He is constantly scanning for clues and rules because “I’m not a slacker,” but the big picture? Not so much.
After I wrote the first sentence in the shortest and most concise way to illustrate the word’s meaning, he looked at me and asked, “Is this cheating?” I wanted to weep but I said, with confidence, that this was not cheating because he should never be expected to write these words in sentences until he knows what the words mean. I said it was impossible for him and for me to complete this assignment if we didn’t know the words yet.
My heart breaks when I see this kind of one-size-fits-all teaching. Poor Christopher, definitely not a slacker. Definitely losing out on daily opportunities to learn because no one is taking the time to provide needed support. If you come across the Christophers in your school or class, please remember their desire to learn and PLEASE get some help if you don’t know how to modify their environment. Check out the Friday Institute’s free Learning Differences course!