Thursday, December 6, 2007

A, B, C, or D?

A good friend of mine recently told me that her daughter might have a learning disability. I told her how lucky she is that they are going to test her while her daughter is still young. Granted it totally sucks to have a disability, but one of the best things is to diagnosis it early.

I didn’t get diagnosed until I was a junior in high school…but even after I was diagnosed it didn’t make a difference. My school didn’t have any resources for students with learning disabilities, (only physical and mental disabilities). My disability is in language comprehension, and not really debilitating. So I was able to get by until high school…until I started taking multiple-choice tests. Talk about my kryptonite!! I would fail about every test I took…even though I read the book and did all the homework associated with the subject.

It wasn’t until my junior English teacher asked my sophomore teacher if I had the same type of test results in their class, which I did. Then they brought it to my mom’s attention and I was tested. Who knows if another teacher of mine would have noticed? What if I had never gotten tested? I knew something was wrong, but I had no idea what. None of my other friends had any problems with the tests.

I didn’t get any help until I went to college, where they actually had a center for students with learning disabilities. I couldn’t believe it! I received tutoring, extra time on my exams, and early registration. The tutoring really helped me with my English classes. The paper assignments were killers. I didn’t get much help with the multiple-choice tests…I just had to pray for Cs. I would study so hard and barely pass, while other piers would kind of study and get Bs. It was really frustrating.

In one class I had a history professor who gave his students the option of either a multiple-choice test OR an essay test! I thought I’d died and gone to heaven! I know most teachers don’t give essays because they don’t like to grade them, but I think maybe 5 students out of a class of 60 opted for the essays. Guess what I got in that class? A B!! Probably one of my only B’s in my general ed classes.

Let me just tell you that my history professor was definitely not the norm. I had THE WORST astronomy teacher…Mr. Fraknoi. (Isn’t that awful that I remember the name of my BAD teacher and not the good one?) This guy gave out all multiple choice exams and quizzes…BUT he gave out the SAME exact quizzes/exams EVERY YEAR. So when it came time for me to get extra time on my test, he threw a hissy fit about giving his exam to the disability center. He was so mad and wrote on the envelope that he was giving them his exam against his will and did not think this was right. Basically a bunch of crap. I guess he thought I would be able to sneak out of the testing room…tip toe over to the copier…and make a bunch of copies…because as you know, my goal was to take down the Fraknoi Empire!

Two other wonderful facts about him…he wouldn’t let any of the students take their tests home with them…and he even had a quiz where all the answers were option C. I remember changing one of my answers to a different letter, because I thought there was no way they could all be C’s. I also met another student who failed his class the first time, but retook it and got an A because he remembered all the answers from the first time. I mean if any teacher deserves and award it sure is him!

Most of the teachers I had were understanding of my disability. Granted it’s a pain to have deal with students who need extra time, but it’s also a pain to have a disability! I hope that teachers now days know what to expect when they have students with disabilities. I’m just thankful that I was able to find a major where my grades were not based only on multiple-choice exams…and that it was something I enjoyed and was decently good at.

This is why it’s so hard for me to believe people when tell me that they enjoy my writing on this blog. I thought people were just being polite, but then I heard it more than once. Now I’m slowly starting to believe it. Well I barely believe it. It’s like all your life you’ve had small boobs, and then one day people are telling you that you have the biggest boobs ever, (sans a boob job)! Would you believe them?


Sarah said...

Well I do have the biggest boobs ever. So maybe it would be like me all of a sudden having no boobs. Would that work?

Of course we all love your blog. It's one of the first things I do at work. Before I even check my personal email. I'm such a great employee. They are lucky to have me.

Anonymous said...

Jude says:
I can't believe that Franknoi got an excellence in teaching award. Just goes to show you what crap those awards really are.

You are a great example for people with language disabilities/ differences. You have had to work really hard and your writing/ speaking has improved so much I even know what you are writing/ talking about! When I was teaching, I would tell the kids with disabilities that they had to work really hard to overcome them, not just say, "Oh! I have a disability" and wimp out. We all need to work harder in our weakest areas, something not everyone understands. I don't think I used you as an example TOO many times! :)

Maggie said...

Are you kidding me, your blog/writing is so awesome it is very often the highlight of my day!! It totally blows all the other blogs I've ever read out of the water. Totally. Your wit, humor and style are admirable.

I figure you must EXTRA smart to have been able to get all the way through high school (and well!) without any help for your learning disability. Shoot, I don't have a diagnosis for a learning disability and sometimes I feel like I barely made it through school!