And, as I promised here, is Barbara Arrowsmith Young’s vision:
My vision is of a world in which no child ever struggles with a learning disability, no child is ever stigmatised as having one, and no child experiences the ongoing emotional pain of living with a learning disability.
My vision is for all schools to become places where children can go to strengthen their brains so they can learn effectively and efficiently. Cognitive exercises, using the principles of neuroplasticity, will become an integral part of each school’s curriculum. In this way, learning problems can be addressed early, as part of a regular curriculum, and students without cognitive deficits will benefit from cognitive stimulation.
In the interim, my goal is that every child be assessed at an early age, their brain deficits (major or minor) clearly determined, and tailor-made exercises applied to overcome any learning problems. In this way, with early intervention, no negative patterns of behaviour will get entrenched.
That people with learning disabilities don’t dare to dream breaks my heart. We now have the tools to address these problems, strengthen and rewire and improve their brains, and avoid a tremendous amount of needless suffering.
I am passionate about this work, about its ability to change and improve lives. My daily prayer is that this work, grounded in compassion, its integrity uncompromised, goes into the world with ease and grace.
The work that Barbara Arrowsmith Young has done is extraordinary but I am sad that she had to suffer so to do what she has done. I think the connection between neuroplasticity and education is clear and yet there are many in education who continue to doubt it. Why are they challenged by the notion that there can be a fundamental change in the learner’s capacity to learn? Why do they not try a new method rather than continuing with teaching students to compensate for their learning difficulties rather than addressing them head on and allowing them to overcome them? As Barbara says, there needs to be a new paradigm in education and in the meantime, until that happens, I am grateful that we find ourselves in Peterborough where Simon is working hard to overcome his particular difficulties.