IA SCHOOLS CAUSE STUDENTS TROUBLESOME MENTAL HEALTH SYMPTOMS

2-8-17

Greetings, IA Legislature Education Committees and all—

The purpose of this post, by superior educator Dr. Sue Atkinson, is:

1.    To create sufficient awareness to stop educators from harming students and to compel the education system to test and properly teach to student learning styles.

2.     Have the legislature pass a law requiring a medical doctor’s diagnosis confirming a student’s learning disability BEFORE a student can be placed into Special Ed.

3.    To show an example of how students having visual learning styles should be taught math. 

The mistakes created by Iowa educators to date have cost the state billions, with no results.  Among other things, Iowa educators are guilty of:

1.   Teaching to wrong student learning styles and causing these students’ to have troublesome mental health symptoms

2.   Incorrectly diagnosing those symptoms as mental health problems and wrongly placing those students into special education--without first having a medical doctor’s diagnosis and confirmation of a student’s learning disability.

3.   Fighting passage of  a law requiring a medical doctor’s diagnosis of a student learning disability BEFORE a student can be placed into Special Ed. 

4.   Misreading student frustration symptoms and under developing students’ minds

5.   Conducting college teacher training classes that discriminate toward certain demographics and also fail to address student learning styles

Website http://www.iowalive.net/dmschoolboardbetter.htm describes the 4 common learning styles.  Memorization, commonly practiced in Iowa schools is not one of them.  Many of you reading this post were forced to try to learn math with memorization or other methods not matched to your learning styles.  At least 15% of you are visual learners, and had difficulty learning math—which likely produced  troublesome mental health symptoms. 

Students having visual learning styles must first visualize complex things before they can grasp and remember them. 

EXAMPLE OF A VISUAL TEACHING METHOD THAT WORKS EFFECTIVELY FOR TEACHING MATH TO VISUAL LEARNERS

Visual learners need to see what is happening in order to have an understanding and be able to remember and apply again.  Memorization, used by schools, has no depth or understanding, so is ineffective for visual learners.  To effectively teach elementary math (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) to visual learners, they must be able to see the process.  The process begins with counting, as follows.

Numbers (1, 2, 3,…) are abstract symbols that stand for counted things, so the first step is to get the visual learner to equate counted things with the abstract symbol.  The simplest available objects are fingers, but to be able to put something on paper that can evolve, lines will work:

2  +  4 =  6 

││+ ││││ = ││││││

Once the connection has been made between objects and their abstract number symbol, expand to counting and addition, and then introduce the basics of our base-ten number system: 

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Show that the same ten numbers are used to count in an orderly process indefinitely.

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This organizes numbers for the basic math processes, beginning with addition.

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Using the same addition problem from above, begin with the number 2 and add four by counting from 2:  3, 4, 5, 6.  Highlighting makes it more visual. 

To demonstrate the relationship of addition to multiplication (2 x 3), using the same numbers as above, begin by highlighting the 2, then add two by counting from 2 to 4, then add 2 again (three 2s) and highlight the 6:

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This uses counting, reinforces addition, and shows the relationship to multiplication.

Subtraction can be taught in a similar manner for the visual learner.

6  -  4  = 2

││││││ - ││││ = ││

Below, start with 6 and highlight it, then count backward four numbers, ending at 2 and highlighting it.

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To demonstrate the relationship of subtraction to division (6/2), using the same numbers, begin by highlighting the 6, then subtract 2 (highlighting the 4), then subtract 2 again (highlighting the 2) (three 2s):

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The above is how teaching math to visual learners is done effectively.  While it works for visual learners, students having one of the other 3 learning styles will find this confusing and extremely frustrating, just as visual learners find other methods and memorization confusing and extremely frustrating.   The brain reacts with symptoms falsely indicating mental health problems such as dyslexia or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)..    Schools and AEAs then have students placed in special education, with NO remediation and without having them medically diagnosed.     

The same is true for reading when phonics is either skipped or incomplete rules are used – both approaches making memorization necessary by denying visual learners the rules for sounding out all of the letters and combinations of letters common in our language.  Schools who rely on memorized words and memorized phrases are examples of schools teaching reading incorrectly – and then falsely blaming students as having a medical learning disability such as dyslexia.

The Dyslexia and Teacher Prep Dysfunction  study released 9 September 2016: http://www.nctq.org/commentary/article.do?id=290  and  The Dyslexia Dilemma: A History of Ignorance, Complacency and Resistance in Colleges of Education  http://childhood-developmental-disorders.imedpub.com/the-dyslexia-dilemma-a-history-of-ignorance-complacency-and-resistance-in-colleges-of-education.pdf   released in 2016

According to this study, about 20 percent of children experience difficulty learning to read. The system of memorization labeled these children "dyslexic," medicalizing an education failure into a neurological syndrome. The authors of this study, led by David Hurford, assert that these children are simply not being properly taught, due to the failure of teacher preparation programs to teach the science of reading to aspiring teachers.

“In spite of decades of research and legislation going back to the 1980s' A Nation at Risk, the 1990's America's Schools Act, the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, the 2001 National Reading Panel Report, the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act, and the Common Core State Standards initiative, reading achievement in the United States remains stagnant. By NAEP measures, reading achievement remains at 1992 levels. Well over 50 percent of children in grades 4, 8, and 12 do not read at a proficient level. Even the attempted "end run" of a couple decades of teaching to the test has not caused the scores to budge.”

Iowa schools have been making transitions to materials for concept-based reading and math but fail to effectively remediate those students who began in a failed  school district, or are being failed due to educators’ lack of knowledge of how to effectively teach concepts to all learning styles.

Special Ed. has been attempting to “accommodate the problem” but completely fails to even consider remediation!  And since it takes effective teaching to effectively remediate, all Special Ed does is remove some of the immediate expectations of the classroom.  Iowa’s NAEP scores clearly show no remediation is taking place.  Deborah Reed, Director of Iowa Reading Research Center, correctly admits summer school does not even attempt to remediate (begging the question of “what is the point of it?),

As a result, Iowa public school students completely lack access to effective remediation of problems created by the flawed education system – unless they enroll in online k-12 or have access to services of professional remediators with a record of success. 

The point of the national Dyslexia Study was to point out that when tenured professors in teacher colleges fail to change from their mistakes of the past, they are continuing to cause the damage and harm they have been causing unnecessarily for decades.  More funding is not going to address the source of the problems and some key state legislators are finally becoming aware of this.

Sue Atkinson, PhD

P. O. Box 301

Baxter IA 50028

641-227-3786

Anyone claiming to have  better evidence of schools causing troublesome mental health symptoms is asked to provide it.

Sincerely,

Iowalive  A growing network of volunteer citizens and professionals for improving Iowa