Remediation: Give Kids Learning Skills, Not Drugs
sounds vaguely familiar: educators are saying that kids who have trouble
reading but who are medically normal must have a mental problem, so they put
them on drugs. Oh, yeah, I remember now: that's what they did to Soviet
dissidents in the gulag, to shut them up, make them placid, and make them work
harder and longer! Why does it seem so fishy to be putting so many children on
so many drugs these days?
Well, it's certainly not fair to relate the Soviet gulag
- domestic prison camps - to the American public school, though smart-aleck
American students probably would try. But it would sure be a lot easier to find
nonmedical remedies for learning problems where possible, instead of trying to
medicate the symptoms of nonmedical learning problems, which manifest as
Keep in mind that school special
education programs are set up to control behavior, and NOT to teach or even minimize
or fix teaching problems. School special ed is to learning the way our prisons
are to good citizenship: there's no guarantee they'll help, but at least
everybody is supposed to be kept safe while they're going on.
But it's wrong, and terribly unfair,
for schools to be allowed to keep blaming the child, the parents, the home, TV,
society as a whole, and everything else under the sun, for unmedical learning
disabilities - when the finger of blame really should be pointed at the school
itself. Maybe not at individual educators, but at the system itself - which has
failed to identify the root of the "learning disabilities" problem -
ineffective instructional strategies and programming.
School observers like author B.K.
Eakman are calling for a new approach to learning problems in schools, rather
than widespread prescriptions of Ritalin, antidepressants and the other drugs
commonly given to kids who struggle in school. The statistics are clear, that
being labeled "learning disabled" or "special ed" in school is associated with
lots of problems on down the road - problems that should be avoided at all
Since remediation programs in school
are geared toward behavior modification, instead of focusing on the child's
learning problems, no wonder so many bright kids who wind up in special ed
through no fault of their own become beat-down, hate school, and feel like
weirdos who don't fit in with their peers and can't be successful.
Instead, she urges new attention to
the basics of instructional remediation, which can bring kids up to speed
academically more quickly and effectively than years of special-ed therapy and
drugs ever could.
Here are the learning skills Ms.
Eakman and others call for, instead of special ed, for kids with "learning
disabilities" who are often warehoused in inappropriate SPED programs and
- visual and auditory memory
- spatial and abstract reasoning
- mental stamina (i.e.,
If grade-school teachers were
trained on these skills, rather than mired in a swamp of "multiculturalism" and
"self-esteem," and if children were precisely diagnosed upon entrance to school
with any weaknesses in these areas, then hordes of them could be kept out of
the dungeons of special-ed and off drugs, critics believe.
That would save taxpayers untold
hundreds of millions of dollars in pointless special-education spending in our
schools . . . not to mention that zeroing in on solving specific learning
problems more efficiently would create hordes of more productive new graduates
who feel better about themselves and are NOT hooked on drugs and suffering the
an on this point by B.K. Eakman, author of Walking
Targets: How Our Psychologized Classrooms Are Producing a Nation of Sitting