Is Compliance a Learning Disability?

Is Compliance a Learning Disability? On reading this blogpost by ace-d, I was taken back to my own school years at Sir Thomas Abney Primary School, Hackney in the mid-1960s. My rather scary teacher Mr H often got frustrated with me over my failure grasp basic maths. I enjoyed listening to stories, loved history and drawing, but my memories of his lessons consisted of watching various cloud formations on the north London sky-line, making out the shapes of faces, horses, clowns, watching the milky exhausts of aeroplanes across the pure blue.

I also remember his nasal intonations, the way his voice rose and fell when he read the class ” Alice in Wonderland”, his checked cotton shirts, his frown the grey comb over which flopped away from his bald pate as he chased a naughty boy around the playground,  and NHS glasses. I don’t remember, his lessons, but I do recall his huge hands and noise they made on child’s backside when he caught him. A dull heavy clapping. Quite Buddhist I suppose as it was done with only one hand.

But I can’t remember what he taught me. Not one lesson is recalled, and it has nothing to do with time and distance because I do remember more clearly other lessons from other teachers going back decades.

The author describes three types of pupils/learners. The apparently success and skilled who have the ability to adapt to any learning environment and do well in most subjects. The second, a group I tend to teach, who are disruptive, have pragmatic linguistic and other problems, who are openly out of sync with the learning environment and who, and author does not directly broach this subject, become labelled and if they are lucky statemented as Adhd, ASD, behavioural problems, possibly dyslexic with all the other cocktail of symptoms and so on.

The third, and I would say is the most common, the compliant. These are learners who are often quiet, avoid getting into trouble and attracting attention, many excel in some subjects but fail in others and they often graze along on the middle or lower streams. I would add they leave schools and colleges with a stronger sense of under achievement than others.

The author demonstrates how LQ ( Learning Intelligence) needs to be applied to these learners. What does this mean? A change or flexible approach to their learning environments. Unlike the first group who adapt to the envionments and the second group who through their behaviour attempt to change it, this group checks out.
unfortunately, even with the current policies on educational choice, the choices centre more around governance in schools rather experimenting with the school environment, and I have not come across evidence where the traditional classroom/ teacher format in urban schools has

been challenged. In the mean time check out of my blog and read ace-d’s excellent article.


Teacher and Class 3

As teachers we know that our classes can fall into three groups, this is especially evident at reporting time.

There are those that do well, are active participants in the learning, question and who are confident. You know these well and find it easy to say something about their progress, attitudes, and behaviours. “Well done. Keep it up”

There are those who have presented challenges, often of a behavioural or engagement in nature. Once again you know these well and you do not struggle to offer advice on how to do better next year. “Learn to focus and avoid distractions”

The last group are not so well known to you. They are often quiet, do as they are told and take up little of your time. In short they are compliant and when it comes to writing reports often provide the biggest challenge. “…. .”

The size…

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Why Should I Teach?

In his book ” The Extra One Per Cent”, the psychologist Rob Yeung describes various mind sets which distinguishes the high achiever in any profession, vocation or activity from those who are average to poor in the same activities. According to Yueng it has little to do with educational attainment, background, or IQ. It seems to boil down to certain behaviours which add up to only that one per cent you need to succeed. Drawing on many various sources such as the ideas of the idea of ” Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Carol Dweck’ and her studies on ” Mindset”  he explores how cherishing others, experiencing awe and having fun enhances your performance at work. Makes you more effective, productive and ultimately more successful.

Which brings me to the work with kids I will call, for want of a better term “reluctant learners”. I teach one-to-one in a boys school, and concentrate mainly on a subjects I love, which is English language and writing. The challenge is to communicate my enthusiasism to youngsters who, too put it bluntly, hate being confronted with a sense of failure every day and resenting being reminded of it just by the very fact of me taking them out of lessons and teaching them separately. I do not work in a typical school. However what I have noticed among boys, and no doubt girls, being forced to do things they find difficult a natural battle of resistance forms. Disruption, diversion, cheekiness, changing the subject all being tactics to avoid the discomfort of true confrontation which is staring at a page or screen with meaningless words.

Here we have the opposite of flow and a mindset which precludes openness and creativity for a subject which can liberate tem. Unfortunately its the paucity of words and the unimaginative learning materials provided creates a prison of inarticulateness which prevents my learners from really moving on. Years of feeling dumb in any subject takes its toll. The challenge is always to motivate them to just start to open up and see what they can achieve.

This where my question, ” Why Should I Teach?” come in and why Yueng is relevant. My own view is that the learners in question have been taught by practitioners so bored and ground down themselves by  the (non) educational process that they have failed to communicate their enthusiasm for their for their subjects and for teaching itself . Also the schools fail to notice or act on the needs of so called “borderline” pupils. So the dreamers, the Adders ( those with ADHD) and the “lazy beggers” get left behind, and that is where I come in.

For the work of Rob Yueng see