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Thursday, 29 March 2012

a miracle to behold

Subnormal. Mentally Deficient. Daft.
All terms applied to them,
the last by boys like us, of seven.
In real terms what they meant
was  that the child could not be taught
and was in need of training.
It made me think: wild animals.
"Unteachable", their "schools" belonged
to health, not Education.
Their "place" was next to ours,
and for its day, enlightened.
I cannot over -stress how much.

That summer came an invitation:
our class to watch their dance display.
We sat on wide, well tended lawns
with rose beds all around.
Two lines of pupils faced each other,
danced and advanced,
cymbals clashed above their heads
then dancing backwards
they regained their starting points.

Except one lad reversed too far
and ended sprawling on his back
among the standard roses.
From us great gales of laughter.
Much hilarity, and to my lasting shame
I laughed as much as any,
but wondered decades later
if that had been the spring
that sent me into special education.

Sometime between those times
the thought had risen in my mind
that had we as a race evolved thus far,
had that become the apex of all life,
it would have been no less a miracle.

12 comments:

Windsmoke. said...

Very vivid and humourous imagery as i could actually see myself watching this dance display and the poor lad tumbling into the standard rose bushes. This has gotta be one of your best ones, well done :-).

Cloudia said...

glimmering in the depths of memory. . .


Warm Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral

> < } } ( ° >

Kat Mortensen said...

A tough subject to write, and no less to convey, but your words do reveal your depth of feeling.

I worked as a TA with special needs children and I get it.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thank goodness the days of ESN and SSN have once and for all disappeared. I worked in that area too for many years Dave and my goodness me what wonderful talents some of those children had.

Jackie Jordan said...

I taught for three (3) months in a Special Education class in an alternative school (the last resort before the reformatory, or jail). The children fell upon me, for they were wild roses with horrific thorns.

Helen said...

Oh Dave, how I enjoyed this! My son was born with developmental disabilities ... attended special education classes, was eventually mainstreamed into high school. On the night he graduated (with several generations of us in attendance) he got confused and after receiving his diploma walked off in the wrong direction. Everyone in his class loved him and even though they laughed, it was laughter filled with pride, love and acceptance. Thank you for writing this.

Mary said...

Dave, if this is what sent you into special ed, it was a good thing. I used to have in my 'regular' class a lot of special kids. Some parents and kids as well came to me years later and thanked me. These kids were indeed special, and I was privileged to know them. They often were my 'favorites.' A very honest poem here.

Tumblewords: said...

Excellent! The thoughtfulness and skill with which you've written this are wonderfully rewarding for the reader!

zongrik said...

you really think we have evolved. there is so much cruelty and unfairness, and stupidity.

Dave King said...

Windsmoke
Sincere thanks for this comment. It means a great deal.

Cloudia
Ah, where should we be without our glimmerings!

Kat
Yes, you are right. It was a tough subject, and this was not my first attempt. So easy for some phrase or other not to come out quite right. Thanks for the reassurance.

The Weaver of Grass
Yes, but it used to be worse than that. In my first Special School a doctor's (medical, not psychological or educational) assessment would be the order of the day. The parents would sit by their child while the doctor filled in a form headed - in large type - "Child Examined for a Deficiency of Mind". The parent could not but read it. When ESN and SSN first came in they were greeted with great sighs of relief as being far less of a stygma.

Jackie
I can see it clearly and your description is perfect: "wild roses with horrific thorns". A warm welcome to you. Good to have you visiting.

Helen
And many thanks for your response. You probably know that around 20% of all children require some form of special help at some point in their school lives. My attitude was always that we were giving them only what every child would have been given in an ideal world, but the world not being ideal, we give it where it's most needed.

Mary
Thanks for the lovely response. I don't know if it was instrumental. In my first school, for my first year, we had only privileged children. Then there was an influx of what I later knew were children with special needs. The head asked for volunteers to take a mixed age class. I was the only volunteer, so there I was, the one least qualified to take the class and them landed with me! I enjoyed myself so much that year, I asked to keep them. And did, for one more year. They were the most colourful bunch I ever had. That was definitely part of the story. The earlier incident may have played its part, too, for it stuck with me so vividly and for so long.

Tumblewords
Thank you very much for your kind words.

zongrik
I take your pont, but yes, think we have, though evolution is of the individual. Unfortunately, we haven't evolved socially to keep apace.

Laurie Kolp said...

Dave- So vivid (I actually felt sorry for the poor guy) and with an unexpected twist.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

This poem made me feel quite sad - sad at how thoughtlessly cruel we can be to each other.

I am certain you were an exceptional teacher Dave and your reflections on your own contribution to the 'name calling' no doubt added to your wisdom.

(Your poetry is exceptional also!)

Anna :o]