Re: Temple Grandin: “The World Needs All Kinds of Minds” (TED.com)


You have heard of my horrible experiences when I was a student at Freeport. My freshman and sophomore year were full of bullying and disrespect from people who didn’t understand that I was different from everybody else. I felt like they spoke an unknown foreign language. People didn’t understand me and I didn’t understand them. Asperger’s and Autism didn’t become a well-known disorder until the twenty-first century. When my parents were in high school they did not have learning support programs, social workers and social skills groups for these kids to learn they skills they needed for life. I must say that we have come a long way, but we still have a lot to work on. While Autism will never be fully understood, there are many things about society that need to change.

Temple Grandin recorded a fascinating lecture on Ted.com that described how her mind works. I must say it was one of the most fascinating online speeches I have ever listened to in my entire life. She stated that her mind works like Google Images. Words coming from another person instantly become movies in her head, equipped with sound. In her TED lecture, she described a scene in the movie. Her mother said the word “shoe” and images of shoes popped up in her head. During the 1950s, people had the common misconception that people with Autism would not amount to anything in life. Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders were usually sent to mental institutions. They had no idea about the continuum of traits from Autism. Anytime they would hear the word “Autistic” they would think they are non verbal and psychologists would recommend they go to a mental institution.

When I was a student at Freeport, I absolutely hated math and science classes because it mainly involved reading books and taking notes. I looked around and noticed that students falling asleep and looking out the window. That obviously meant they were not the least bit interested in the material we were going over. During 10th grade I had physical science during eighth period, the last class of the day. This speech directly relates to another topic I have posted several blogs about.

To reiterate my Lenape blogs, I talked about how Freeport tried to make a standardized test score out of me and not the best person I could be after I graduated from high school. Every day I had a structured learning support period. The learning support class is pretty much a structured study hall. It pretty much consisted of completing homework you didn’t do at home, or reviewing for upcoming tests. Every day I would complain about how much I hated that particular test I was studying for and I would say the material was pointless. My teachers would then respond “Derek, you can complain all you want but this material will be on the P.S.S.A tests and you need to take the class to graduate”. I then decided to keep my mouth shut because arguing would result in a trip to the office. After that, I would think “so what, I will never use this crap after I graduate so why should I care about this class?”

This is directly related to another point Temple made during her speech. There are many teachers out there who are not certified to teach but have a degree in science fields like biology, chemistry, physics or music. Any person in this country can get the certification to become a teacher, but the question I would ask my self if I were hiring a new teacher would be “are they willing and able to show how this particular class can apply to the real world”? I admire the fact that it is part of the curriculum at Lenape. They prove to you that they don’t make you learn algebra, trigonometry or geometry just because it is a graduation requirement or it is on the P.S.S.A tests. In our Technical Communications (English) class, we are required to write an essay about a career related to our chosen technical field. It has to be five paragraphs long, and you are required to put citations from your research sources at the end of each paragraph. After the essay is thoroughly edited and completed, you are then required to give a ten minute speech about the career.

Freeport requires juniors to give a ten minute speech about a career you wanted to pursue in the future. You are randomly assigned a teacher to grade you on the speech, who most likely doesn’t know enough about their chosen career. I had to give a five-minute graduation speech during tenth grade about a chosen career field, and I chose an Electronics Engineer. My English teacher obviously knew nothing about the career, so she gave me a 100% for the effort, because I only knew general information about the career field. The graduation requirement for your senior year at Lenape is more hands on. You are required to present a twenty-minute demonstration of a hands on task related to your technical area. It has to be ten minutes long and you must use correct terminology when identifying any of the equipment you are using. I am in the electronics program, and I will have to do this project for my senior year. You will have to explain how each component specifically functions in the circuit.

There is one more thing I will have to keep in mind about my job skills project. It will be graded by somebody that is in the industry. Simply put, it will be graded by somebody who works in a profession related to my chosen technical area. I will have to make sure I not only know what I am talking about, but that I am dressed appropriately and practicing proper safety techniques. A twenty minute long presentation is a lot to prepare for, especially when it is a graduation requirement. The best thing to do is think of this presentation as a learning experience. In the future, you never know when you will have to demonstrate something.

Temple Grandin is the reason many people on the Autistic Spectrum have gone to college and obtained successful careers. Usually, the so called “obsession” these individuals have when they are kids could have their children obtain a successful career in something related to it. I completely agree that schools need to stop teaching abstract skills. I never functioned well in classes like that, especially abstract math. If you can prove to me why I need this in real life, I will do well in the class. Lenape changed my opinion about school, and I think there need to be more full day technical and academic schools with a similar curriculum as Lenape. Education as a whole needs to become less abstract and more specific and related to the real world. If that changes, I feel we will have less students falling asleep in class and looking out the window and not being interested.

Click Here To Watch Temple’s Lecture:

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4 thoughts on “Re: Temple Grandin: “The World Needs All Kinds of Minds” (TED.com)

  1. Dear Derek,

    I wanted to reiterate the invitation I made previously to publish your essay about disclosing Asperger’s in/on our blog and book project.

    I am one of three editors of a new blog and book project, The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism:

    http://thinkingautismguide.blogspot.com/

    Facebook page

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Thinking-Persons-Guide-to-Autism/119870308054305

    Twitter
    http://twitter.com/thinkingautism

    Our statements of purpose and vision:

    ++++++

    Mission Statement
    The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism (the website and the book) exists to help people with autism, and their families, make sense of the bewildering array of available autism treatments and options, and determine which are worth their time, money, and energy. We also want to encourage respectful attitudes towards autistics and people with autism.

    Why We Are Doing This
    The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism (TPGA) is the book and website we wish had been available when our loved ones with autism were first diagnosed.

    Autism misinformation clouds and is perpetuated by the Internet. We want to make accurate information about autism causation and therapies visible, accessible, and centralized.

    We also want to help new autism community members develop a positive yet realistic attitude, to appreciate the strengths while supporting the struggles of our loved ones with autism.

    Our attitude is cautionary yet loving — we are interested in strong opinions, but not in negativity. Our families need their energies for evidence-based optimism!

    How We See Ourselves
    Think of us as a little bit of Snopes for the autism community — trusted, accurate, and friendly. Our essays will cover informed approaches to autism and autism treatments, as well as the personal experiences of people with autism and their families.

    Our writers have defined opinions, and may not always agree with each other. That is both acceptable, and realistic, because autism means something different for every person with an autism diagnosis. We are not here to tell you what to do; we are here to give you tools and information so you can make informed decisions for yourself, your child, or your family.

    I think your essay is really well-written and we’d like to include it. Do let me know.

    • Hi Liz,

      Thank you for commenting me on my blog and for asking me to be a part of your project. Sorry for my delayed response, I haven’t been online in a while. I would be very honnered if I were included in your project. Please tell me which posts you would like me to be included and I will get back you.

  2. Hi Derek,
    I have seen the movie, “Temple Grandin”, I have found your insights about autism fascinating. I so much agree with you and Temple Grandin about the need to go back to hands on instruction. I think it is an extremely horrible mistake not to include these, actually for all students. Relevance, purpose and instruction need to form a union for motivation.
    Thanks for your blog. I am proud to know you.

    • That is precisely why I think Lenape is an important place in Armstrong County. Freeport’s Superintendant, Dr. Stann Chap is running for the new superintendant for Armstrong School District. He is not an advocate of Lenape’s full day program. If he becomes our superintendant, there may be another attack on Lenape.

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