As Tim and I begin the process of preparing to send Ilse to kindergarten, a few thoughts are running through my head. I'd like to put them out there in blogland and maybe somebody can help me decide what my opinion is, because I'm conflicted.
For years I've thought kids who can't do ordinary school work should focus more on life skills, something to help them be independent as they grow. However, now that I'm planning on sending Ilse to school, I'm thinking more and more that if a teacher tried to focus only on life skills with her, I'd be annoyed. Ilse deserves to be taught her letters, shapes, colors, etc.
Tim took it a step further the other day and said that he teaches his students history, and I was shocked. Why? I thought. How will it benefit them? I don't know that I think anyone should spend any time learning something that simply will not benefit them. I asked Tim, "Why on earth would we teach Ilse history? She might not be able to learn it!"
Tim's response was flooring. "Because she might be like her daddy." Tim was a history major, you see, and he spends nearly all his free time absorbing documentaries and reading history books. He knows almost everything that there is to know about American military history and WWII, in my opinion.
And Tim is right. This goes along with my thoughts on Ilse's bowling. We should expose her to history because she might like it and who knows if she can learn it or not! Now I'm wondering if we should expose her to all sorts of subjects!
I read a HONY post where a teacher said she did not think children in her special ed classes should be made to hear lessons on To Kill a Mockingbird when they don't even know their ABCs. But I think they should. It will broaden their horizons! Some precious nugget of information could take root in their minds and make them fall in love with something and it might better their lives.
Do kids in special ed classes need to learn life skills? Of course they do! I work daily on teaching Ilse things to help her be independent. Just a few weeks ago she would flop her legs when I was putting pants on, but in one or two times of me telling her to 'push!' she learned how to keep her legs straight so I could easily put her pants on. That is not a stupid child. (I'm not saying any child is.) She can learn things and I and her teachers need to teach her things, and I'm learning that I should not decide what her potential is and declare what she can and can not learn.
I need to let her try. And I need to push her.
There. By the end of this blog post I made up my own mind about what I think. :)