It’s the time in the semester that student cram in everything that the professor has talked about in the class. I like to think of it as a way to see what I really learned this year. Some times it is just information that is nice to know. Other times it is real ideas that I ponder and try to answer for years to come. That was the case for me in Mosaics II. Most of the time in Gen-Ed classes I don’t really take away with something that I really enjoyed/learned. Instead I feel like I am just checking off something I am required to do. As a result it seems like classes are like to-do list like to take out the trash and such!
But I did learn something in Mosaics II (and I am not just saying that because my professor is reading this). I really did. So why talk about it on Melonaid? Well the reason being is that I think I can take the ideas from the course and apply them in the world of being dyslexic and disability rights. And if I could have two take aways in the course its this.
- There is a tread of “unity”, or I like to call it, conformity of normalcy
- “Extremist” who are using their outside of the box thinking to show the diversity of the world.
We spent some time in the class talking about Nature and forming it to meet our interest. For example in Bontany of Desire by Pollan he talks about the tale of Johnny Appleseed and the cultivation of apples in the Midwest. Appleseed was a real guy (a little crazy but real). The apples that Appleseed planted were used to make a popular drink of his time cider. However we have taken this one person and fruit and changed it to meet a specific standard. For example, farmers altered their trees in order to make their apples unified in taste/quality and production yield. As a result, people have created Natural® fruit to order to fit their standards of success and of “survival”.
But this is not only limited to some Apples, we still do this today with students with LD. Schools try their best to teach students in order to meet a specific model of education. Sure the model works for some but it is not best for many people esp. students with LD. And like Apples, schools and society take this “bad apples” and place them within special education classes and other stuff like that. I remember being placed in these smaller rooms “special” rooms to learn how to read and write. I was and still am a smart student however since I was unable to learn reading in the standard classroom, I was seen as a bad fruit. And as they say one bad apple ruins a bunch!
But even though I did not fit the standard student, I was able to go to college and display my intelligence and critical thinking skills. Sure I suck at reading but I am not deemed a failure or a bad apple because of it! But that is what society does. Since I do not fit a specific model students like me have to go through more hoops in order to show our value. (and may I say what is wrong with a little bit of variety)
For years I wished that life was similar to the book Utopia. For example the idea that the houses, “door have all two leaves every men walk freely in and out of them” (More). The idea that there is no closed doors to people I think that is what we really want. (Think about it walking in and nobody doing a double take.) But that is why the idea of a Utopia is impossible. People put doors around others for sense of safety. I don’t think it is physical safety but the idea of change and a shift in their life. The reason being that is that they might not be as powerful than they thought. Some of the most innovative people have an LD/ADHD like Richard Branson. Put the amount of known LD innovates is a small sampling of what is really out there. You would be amazed out of all the people I meet people with LD are some of the most creative and outside the box thinkers I have met. But what is preventing them to be the next Branson? The reason is that they lost their confidence to do so. And the blame is on society aka “normal” people because they have put so many walls up on LD and told them they don’t fit the norm that people believe it to be true. As a result they don’t publicly share their genius because their LD has such a bad stigma attach to it.
But like me do what the Founding Fathers did in the Declaration of Independence and fire some graveness. “But Matt what does the Founding Fathers have to do with disability rights? The Founding Fathers were fighting about taxes and such.” I guess in some way but it is also about having representation. That is what the people with LD want. They want to be represented in the world around us. The reason being is that we should have a say in how we learn and how to make life accessible to all. (I mean people with LD are different thinkers lets embrace them!)
And diversity is good. Look at the Greeks in the Iliad. They had a polytheistic religion system. For example they had Gods like Zeus and God of Thunder and Hestic Goddess of hearth/family. As a result there is not one idea/figure that makes the universe/thought but many. We are in a diverse world with different people/ideas that are needed to make society function.
About anyone who tries to fight for this diversity is seen as an extremist. Figures like Martin Luther King Jr. among others. And for the longest time I assumed that an extremist was something bad to be. I think the reason being is that “normal” people me so. However when I read Life from Birmingham Jail, King had a great comeback to these “normal” people, “What kind of extremist will you be?” (King). He also talked about that you cannot wait for things to happen. As a result someone who wants to change the stigma of having LD they will be seen as an extremist because they are not following in social norms but they are making the change they want to see.
But how can this be done? I think we have to show people the true face of people with LD. I have done so thus far by talking through this blog, guest speaking and just being a reprehensive of people with LD. I tell my story, I explain to people how I learn and what I need to do to be successful and lastly what needs to be done to change the stigma. This is a group effort as well. I see it at Temple. Through programs like Eye to Eye, Temple is building a supportive LD community at Temple, North Philadelphia and the entire city. Through this support and community, people can see that their disability is not a stigma but a gift to have. As a result, we have show people that this idea of “normal” sucks. Normal is nothing new if we want to grow as a society we NEED to embrace people with LD and everyone because diversity is good.
And maybe that is why the course is called Mosaics. A mosaic is composed of different shapes and kinds of tiles that when put together makes a masterpiece. If we embrace life like a mosaic then we can see that we all play a role in the world. If the world was composed of one normal kind of tile than it is boring. Diversity brings life!
Will you be an extremist with me? Think of the masterpieces we can create!
Martin Luther King Jr. Letter from Birmingham Jail , (June 12, 1963)
More, Thomas. Utopia. The Project Gutenberg eBook, 2005. eBook.