An Education to Politics – Differentiation ~ Linda Wemyss

Pauline Hanson, One Nation Senator, and someone who should know better, came out today commenting that students with Autism should be segregated away from mainstream classrooms as they are taking up too much of the teachers time, at the expense of other student’s education. Apparently mainstream children want to get ahead by leaps and bounds, but Autistic children are holding them back.

Pfft.

What a crock of shit.

For starters, let us not kid ourselves that wanting to do well at school is not dependent on one’s neurology, but on one’s personality. Some children want to do well at school, and some of those children are neurotypical, and others are autistic. Some children couldn’t care less about school, and some of those children are neurotypical and other are autistic. I have two children, both autistic – one wants to do well, and the other really couldn’t care so long as he can write code when he gets home (which he could do at a university level at ten years of age according to his schools tech teacher).

Let us also not kid ourselves that autistic children hold other children back. This is simply not true. I have one child who is gifted in all areas, and his education is, and always has been, held up by the typical children in his class. I have one child who is gifted in some areas and developmentally delayed in others, and his education does not affect the class at all. If he needs extra work because the work is too easy, then he receives it. If he needs extra work because the work is too hard, then he receives it. Just like every other child in the class is given work according to their ability.

Are there issues with our education system? Sure there are, however my children, and autistic children like them, are not the sole cause of them.

As usual, money is the main issue our schools have. Actually, the lack thereof. It is not only autistic children who require extra help in the classroom. It is children with all kinds of disabilities. It is children who are having a hard time at home. It is children who learn in different ways, or who don’t quite grasp the concept the first time around. It is children who have different personalities. It is children who skipped breakfast and who are too hungry to concentrate, or children who are too excited about going away for the weekend to concentrate on their work.

Unless your child is a robot, then at some stage, the teacher is going to have to change the curriculum to suit your child’s needs. It’s called differentiation, and it’s a big topic that teachers are well versed in. The problem is not that we require differentiation in our schools. The problem is that we rarely have enough money, time, or resources to do so. Instead, our government expects a one-size-fits-all approach to work, and it quite simply does not. Never has. Never will.

Perhaps our politicians should go back to school and learn that one should only be developing policy once one has an idea of what one is talking about. No doubt they will require a little differentiation themselves and could learn first hand all about it.

About Linda Wemyss

Linda is a writer, wife, mother to two children, and slave to two cats. She identifies as Autistic (diagnosed), and has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, as well as a variety of chronic medical conditions. Living in sunny Queensland, Linda likes to scrapbook, make beaded jewellery and explore different art mediums (usually mashed together).

Read more at Linda’s blog here.