Oud-leerling Daniël Klok: ‘Disorders in our society’s school system’

Vandaag ontving ik van oud-leerling Daniël Klok, een kritisch essay over ons schoolsysteem naar aanleiding van zijn persoonlijke ervaringen met ADHD binnen het Nederlands schoolsysteem.  Zijn persoonlijke ervaringen zijn voor hem aanleiding voor een serie scherpe kritische opmerkingen over ons schoolsysteem als:

‘Our school system is based on one type of student. The student that can function well in a group, pay attention and focus in class for a whole day from 9-4, and that can plan for tests for all of the subjects in one week. Someone with ADHD is not that kind of student.’

Daniël gaat in zijn essay echter verder dan alleen het signaleren van de tekortkomingen van ons systeem waar het gaat om het begeleiden van leerlingen met (bijvoorbeeld) ADHD. Hij komt ook met aanbevelingen aanbevelingen:

‘We should not standardize the children, but exploit their brilliances, their talents. ‘  …

‘The way the system works, the perfect ‘batch’ of students is 30 pupils from one class, knowing exactly the same, ignoring their talents. The way we achieve true brilliance is when a student finds his or her talent, and works that up to a top level. This can only become reality when schools are going to personalize education. Let students work at their own rate, following their talents. Do not blunt off their talents and make them struggle for stuff they do not care

Bedankt voor het delen Daniël . Ik heb veel bewondering voor de manier waarop jij binnen dit beperkte systeem toch je weg hebt weten te vinden en ruimte hebt weten te creëren voor jouw creativiteit en (bijvoorbeeld muzikale) talenten.  Je wordt vast een top-collega in de nabije toekomst.

In overleg met Daniël  publiceer ik hieronder de integrale tekst van zijn essay:

My name is Daniel. When I was in the Dutch ‘Basisschool’, I was diagnosed with ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. Therapy, medication and bullying followed and with that, the feeling I was less smart or less good than the other, ‘normal’ pupils as well. While a lot of scientists debate about the existence of ADHD, I am sure it exists. I am also sure it did not have to exist.

Our school system is based on one type of student. The student that can function well in a group, pay attention and focus in class for a whole day from 9-4, and that can plan for tests for all of the subjects in one week. Someone with ADHD is not that kind of student. Someone with ADHD has trouble concentrating for longer periods when the material where the focus is on is not interesting to that someone.

The popular misunderstanding is that a kid with ADHD cannot focus on anything at all. Nothing is less true. For instance, I excel in assignments about subjects I am interested in, while I have trouble even starting one I could not care less about. I have a hard time selecting something and giving it my full attention, something has to grab my attention, peak my curiosity, and then I can hyperfocus. This is a good thing and a bad thing. A bad thing because I have a hard time completing tasks that do not excite me. And we live in a world where you have to read your textbooks and pay your taxes. The up side is, when something does peak my curiosity, I become obsessed, and I hyperfocus.

I am sure I have shown here that the right term should not be ‘Attention Deficit’, but ‘Attention Different’. Therefore, I think we should not be shutting the children off with medicine, and deaden them to what is happening in class. We should not be getting our children through education by anaesthetising them. We should not be putting them to sleep; we should be waking them up to what they have inside of themselves. We should change education, not the children.

The key is to motivate children with ADHD, not to make them doubt themselves by putting this label on them. I would not wish being bullied because I was “different” and an “ADHD-patient” on my worst enemy. Also, only being accepted to a high school under the terms of that I had to start medication was not the most pleasant feeling, let alone the feeling the actual medicine gave me. The type of Ritalin I had to take made me feel inanimate, unmotivated, depressed and boring; not myself. Of course it was a welcome change for my teachers. At least I was quiet for a change. This is not the change we should want. The real change that has to happen is the change in education.

In the educational system we have currently, students are educated by batches; every child of the same age gets the same education. This, while there are various differences in cognition amongst different students. We have to adapt our education to different ways of learning. Already too many brilliant students (with ADHD), have gone to waste because of the demotivating, negative way schools deal with these ‘disorders’, and too many students have been sedated because they are too much of a hindrance for the teacher.

Standardizing all the pupils. This is not only about ADHD kids, but also for students with dyslexia, autism, PDD-NOS, or just children who are better at studying alone, in a small group, or in a big one. We should not standardize the children, but exploit their brilliances, their talents. The way the system works, the perfect ‘batch’ of students is 30 pupils from one class, knowing exactly the same, ignoring their talents. The way we achieve true brilliance is when a student finds his or her talent, and works that up to a top level. This can only become reality when schools are going to personalize education. Let students work at their own rate, following their talents. Do not blunt off their talents and make them struggle for stuff they do not care about.

Not only the term ADHD, but also all the other “disorders”, did not have to exist if education would have adapted to the students and not the other way around.

 

Daniël Klok
Student Lerarenopleiding Engels
Twitter: @denyol
E-mail: Daniel.Klok@hva.nl

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