Transformations Magazine January 2014 - page 9

DR:
Probably not, based
on the limitations of the
educational system of that time
for accommodating learning
disabilities.
MS:
My handwriting shows that
I’m operating at a fourth or fifth
grade level, yet I’m a published
author in academic journals with
the help of a computer.
DR:
By the time you were in high
school, what was going on?
MS:
I was the class clown by that
time. For example, in PE class,
you may be told “everyone go
to the right.” If you don’t really
know your left from your right,
you’re bound to make a couple
of mistakes and the kids start to
laugh. Instead of being teased or
bullied, you then turn into the
class clown. So I was Mr. Popular,
but I wasn’t Mr. GPA. It wasn’t
until later, when I was determined
to become more college-oriented,
that I stopped taking basic classes
and moved into more of the honors
and AP courses.
Those of us who go into the field
of education or into the helping
professions are sometimes
inspired by the people who have
helped us along the way. More
often than not, we’re actually
inspired by those who have been
abusive and cruel. There was one
particular English teacher who
gave all multiple choice tests and
used lower-case letters. Since I am
dyslexic, “b” and “d” are the same
letter for me. I was repeatedly
failing her tests, and repeatedly
trying to explain to her that I knew
the material.
DR:
But she would not make the
adjustment from lower case to
capital letters so that you could
distinguish between them.
MS:
And when I did turn in a
typed assignment, she accused
me of plagiarism because she felt
that there was no way I could have
written the assignment, based on
what she had seen in my hand-
written assignments.
DR:
I think I would have become
a bitter person.
MS:
Mom and dad didn’t really
know what to do. Both of their
parents were educators. We were
taught to respect the teacher.
My parents had conferences
but didn’t really argue with her,
they encouraged me to just do
my best (the Cub Scout motto).
I specifically remember a test
on Greek mythology. I had been
reading about Greek mythology for
years. Some kids get turned on by
dinosaurs; I got turned on by the
“Here on the IU
Southeast campus,
no one used the
computer for testing
accommodations until
I was hired.”
pantheon of Greek and Roman
gods. I was pretty sure I had
Athena down pat. [If, on a
multiple choice question] selection
“b” was goddess of war and
wisdom and selection “d” was
goddess of love, I would know the
difference. I had written the letter
“d” instead of “b” in the blank. I
talked to the teacher and gave her
the whole history of Athena, and
how she was split from Zeus’ head.
She just looked at me and said
“No, you got it wrong.” When I
turned in my typed essay, it was
at so high a level, she assumed I
couldn’t possibly have done it and
accused me of plagiarism.
So I remember this person, and
I tell myself that I don’t want to
be like her. If I can do anything to
prevent others from behaving like
this teacher, I will.
DR:
That was a turning point
for you. What was your major in
college?
MS:
English. It amazed a lot of my
friends when I disclosed my major
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