We Love Jonathan Mooney

A few months ago, I picked up a book titled “Learning Outside the Lines” about two learning disabled guys who went from being at the bottom of the barrel, academically & socially, to graduating from Brown University with honors.  Of these two guys, the story that I related to the most was told by Jonathan Mooney…dyslexic and ADHD. 

His struggles…to be respected, valued, understood at school… were mirrored in my daughter’s struggles for the same things. His shames… of being ‘different’, ‘stupid’, ‘not normal’… were my daughters shames. His feelings towards learning…frustration, anger, defeat…were my daughter’s feelings. I read the book, crying and laughing through it, and then I read it again with my daughter. Well, not all of it…Jonathan can curse with the best of them and I substituted some of my own words over those.

Here, finally, was someone drawing the line against the traditional school’s policy of ‘fixing the kid’ so they can stay in the system without causing too much of a disturbance. His take on it is that these ‘Learning Disabled kids’ are just fine…it’s the system that needs fixing. Traditional schools remediate the disability without acknowledging the great strengths that come with it. He advocates broadening the concept of ‘intelligence’ in schools so that they work with kids on all different levels and interests. He calls schools out for creating a standard of ‘normal’ as a one size fits all idea that kids need to strive for and teachers need to emphasize. He has strong criticism for ‘No Child Left Behind’. What he calls for is nothing short of a massive paradigm shift to include all types of learners into the system rather than segregate these divergent thinkers into a wasteland of low expectations and shame driven remediation in ‘Special Ed’ to become ‘normal’ like the other kids.

I am all for it.

Truthfully, I am making him sound a lot more boring than he, and his message, really are. His books are full of humor and self deprecation. When we sat to listen to him speak at The Tattered Cover bookstore recently, he engaged both my daughter and myself for 1 1/2 hours. He said things like, “The problem isn’t that I have dyslexia…the problem is the teachers had dysteachia.” Them’s fighting words, and I can’t imagine many educators would take that message very well. So then why do we feel it’s OK to blame the child instead? His point about fixing the exclusionary system instead of fixing the child also is pretty radical an idea. I snuck glances over to my daughter while he was talking about his experiences and saw her nodding as if to say, “Amen brother!” and hope that the message of personal worth & capability will speak louder to her than the previous message she received of being ‘broken’ and ‘not normal’ at school.

The very term they use to describe ‘divergent thinkers’ in public schools is derogatory. Learning Disability. Dis-able. Unable. I bought that for about 6 months, and then chucked it all out the window after having my daughter home with me and watching her learn as easily as a plant uses sunlight to grow. Granted, it wasn’t ‘learning’ in the traditional school way, but it was her own doing and it is her own learning. Thank goodness we have the freedom to remove the label and let learning happen.

At the end, he signed his new book, “The Short Bus: A journey beyond normal” and we took a picture with him. He asked The Naturalist what school she attended, and she said she was homeschooled. “Aaahhhh” he said. “How long did you make it through school before homeschooling?” She replied, “3rd grade.” He got a faraway look in his eye and said quietly, “Yeah, that’s about when I wanted out, too.” They both nodded to each other knowingly and smiled.

He dedicated her book: “To (The Naturalist). ‘Normal’ people suck. Enjoy your ride! Jonathan Mooney”

Random Searches

I love looking at what searches people use to get to my blog. I can only imagine what the thought process is when someone is very seriously looking for “math worksheets” and ends up on my rant against them. And then they maybe read a bit further to find out what kind of freak doesn’t support the use of worksheets only to discover the deep, dark world of unschooling. It must be quite shocking!

In any case…I aim to please, and because I maybe didn’t answer their search properly the first time, and now that I know what questions people out there really want to know the answers to, I will attempt to give better explanations for future googlers. Here are my favorite random searches that lead people to my blog, in no particular order:

poor person. The ALL CAPS really gives them away. Driven to the brink by a child that won’t stop playing with small stuff. I’ll give this one a shot, as I think I have a good answer.


eating pizza to give birth.
well, I wouldn’t recommend it. The most you’ll get is heartburn. My friend does have a recipe for ‘Labor Salad’ and swears it’s put all her friends into labor…some that weren’t even pregnant before eating it!

I also do not recommend eating fast food with the understanding that your child will be induced the next week. I started on that slippery slope with The Sassy Princess, and after delaying the induction by 3 weeks I was eating fast food 3 meals a day. For those 3 weeks. I just kept thinking…well, tomorrow they’ll induce…what’s one more day?

write 60 words in abc order
something to put words in abc order
can you help me put words in abc order

Wow, this is a big one. Sorry, folks. All you’ll get from me, here, are reasons why ABC order can be so difficult, and why we hate it here chez Child’s Play. Some people are really good at ABC order. If you know any, get them to help you. If you find it very hard to put the alphabet in order…well, you might be a redneck. I mean, dyslexic.

parachute science observation worksheets.
Let me take a moment to point out that if you are observing, you can’t be writing on a worksheet. If you’re writing on a worksheet, you can’t be observing. How about let them do the parachute observation and enjoy it. I bet they’ll remember more that way than if they’re stressing out about writing everything down.

how to explain how the titanic sank
“Big, unsinkable boat. Big, icy iceberg. The two met, iceburg prevailed, boat is two miles down in the Atlantic. Discuss amoungst yourselves.”

icing art
icing art
how to icing art

This is a big one for people googling in South Africa. I’m not sure if the kids icing art is the answer you’re looking for, but we LOVE seeing South African dots on our blog map. Did you know you are 9,500 miles away from us? The Golfer thinks that is SO COOL. So, thanks for stopping by–leave a comment next time and my kids will FREAK from the coolness of having someone so far away leave us a hello.

last but not least…

how did my husband get mono?
Uh, I’m a little uncomfortable with the accusitory nature of this question. I had mono, but I assure you I did NOT give it to your husband. I didn’t even give it to MY husband! So, you can keep on looking the other blogs. There’s nothing to see here. I’m not that kind of girl.