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The Kids We Lose





It was obvious to Liam that his friend Tadiwa was talented.  


When he described his brain being able to do drawings ‘like an architect’, I imagined a bird's eye view of a floor plan -an extraordinary skill for a child to have and a likely indication of a brain that is spatially strong, able to rotate a mental image and see something from many sides.  


Considering this strength, chances are good that Tadiwa is dyslexic.  Considering the way he struggles with written school work, chances are good Tadiwa is dyslexic.


Either way Tadiwa is in trouble.   


Did you notice the pattern? 


 At first they would  ‘treat him like a normal student’ but inevitably they would use exclusion with increasing measure.   First they were ‘moving him ‘away’ from other students then  ‘sending him out the class’ and eventually suspending him from school several times before the age of 13.


We get it right?  Tadiwa was becoming increasingly defiant and even aggressive with other students. What else could a responsible teacher do?


 Dr Ross Greene of ‘lives in the balance’ would probably not engage me on my theory on Tadiwa’s diagnoses.  He would say there are two groups of kids:  Lucky ones and Unlucky ones.


Lucky kids are the ones who can express their frustration in adaptive ways that provoke empathy and support from the adults around them.  When they struggle with hurt feelings, they cry, withdraw and are drawn in and comforted.  When they struggle with handwriting or math, they use their words and ask for help, so they get that help.


Tadiwa is not a lucky kid.


He too has struggled to meet expectations and become increasingly frustrated.  He knows he isn’t dumb,  he can visualise and invent what others cannot, and yet he seems to not be able to do basic things that the kids around him find easy.  Not only the kids in the year he is in but then the kids a year younger and then a year younger than that. 


Tadiwa got angry.


 And instead of expressing his frustrations in lucky, adaptive ways that would get him help he has acted out, been naughty, been disruptive enough to not be drawn in.  But to be sent out.


Tadiwa’s story is set on a course that ends nowhere good.


20% of each class are Wonderfully Wired.


If they do not get support for their challenges and acknowledgement of their gifts, we see the gifts in their extraordinary brains less and less.   And if they are unlucky kids like Tadiwa they will believe in those gifts and in themselves less and less.


They will form their identities around the loudest message they hear all day.  They will be defined by what they cannot control and so give up trying,  and like Tadiwa, lean in to the role of being the ‘bad egg’  


I’m convinced the adults can do better for Tadiwa and the world that is losing his  contribution.

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