Jonathan Mooney: "The Gift: LD/ADHD Reframed"


Uploaded by UOregon on 25.06.2012

Transcript:
JELLAR:COURTNEY CASH JELLAR.I'M AN ACCESS ADVISER
AND ADHD SPECIALIST AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OREGON
ACCESSIBLE EDUCATION CENTER.CAN EVERYONE HEAR ME OKAY?
HOW'S THE -- YOU WANT -- REBECCA WAS AH, OOH, EH.OKAY.
SO IF -- IF AT -- IF AT ANY TIME ANYONE CAN'T HEAR ME,
PLEASE RAISE YOUR HAND.YOU CAN JUST PUT YOUR HAND IN
THE AIR, AND I'LL TRY AND SPEAK UP.

YOU'RE IN TROUBLE ALREADY IN THE FRONT HERE.THANK YOU
ALL FOR COMING.

BEFORE I INTRODUCE JONATHAN, I'M GOING TO TELL A LITTLE
STORY ABOUT HOW HE CAME TO BE HERE TODAY.AND THAT
STORY STARTS IN 2005 WHEN I FIRST READ JONATHAN'S FIRST
BOOK "LEARNING OUTSIDE THE LINES."AND IT WAS MY FIRST
YEAR OF MY PHD PROGRAM.I HAD JUST GOTTEN A DIAGNOSIS
OF ADHD AND ATTENTIVE TYPE.AND I THOUGHT I'D PICK UP
HIS BOOK AND LEARN SOME -- SOME STRATEGIES.MAYBE HELP
ME READ A LITTLE FASTER, GET THROUGH SOME PAPERS A
LITTLE BETTER.BUT ESPECIALLY AFTER READING JONATHAN'S
STORY ABOUT HIS EDUCATIONAL HISTORY, ABOUT HIS STRUGGLES
IN THE EDUCATION SYSTEM, I -- I ENDED UP GETTING A LOT
MORE FROM THAT BOOK.IT WAS THE FIRST TIME THAT I HAD
EXPERIENCE WITH A STRENGTH-BASED PERSPECTIVE ON PEOPLE
WHO LEARN DIFFERENTLY.

AND AFTER READING WHAT HE HAD TO SAY, I FELT LIKE I HAD
AN ALLY.I NO LONGER FELT AS MUCH OF THE SHAME THAT
IS -- IS SOMETIMES A PART OF BEING SURROUNDED BY
TRADITIONAL LEARNERS.AND I ALSO FELT MORE EMPOWERED.
IT WAS A MONUMENTAL EXPERIENCE FOR ME AND ONE THAT HAS
DRIVEN MY WORK IN WORKING WITH PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES.

SO FLASH FORWARD FIVE YEARS, I GOT A GTF, A GRADUATE
TEACHING FELLOWSHIP, AT THE OFFICE OF DISABILITY
SERVICES HERE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OREGON.AND I WAS
PUT IN CHARGE IMMEDIATELY OF DOING THE YEARLY AWARENESS
EVENT, DISABILITY AWARENESS EVENT.AND I -- I WAS
SEARCHING THE INTERNET FOR POTENTIAL SPEAKERS.AND I
KEPT ON FINDING MYSELF ON JONATHAN'S WEBSITE.AND I HAD
TOLD THE -- THE STAFF ABOUT JONATHAN, AND EVERYBODY WAS
REALLY EXCITED ABOUT BRINGING HIM.

BUT THEN SHORTLY AFTER I DID SOME RESEARCH INTO IT, IT
BECAME REALLY CLEAR THAT OUR SMALL OFFICE WOULD NEED TO
DO A LOT MORE FUNDRAISING BEFORE WE COULD BRING JONATHAN
HERE.SO EVERY YEAR WE TALKED ABOUT BRINGING JONATHAN,
BUT FINALLY NOW FOUR YEARS LATER EVERYTHING HAS COME
TOGETHER SO THAT WE'RE ABLE TO HAVE HIM HERE AND TO
SPEAK WITH US.

SO THE OFFICES THAT HAVE MADE THAT POSSIBLE ARE,
OBVIOUSLY OUR OFFICE, THE ACCESSIBLE EDUCATION CENTER.
WE JUST CHANGED OUR NAME FROM DISABILITY SERVICES, AND
ONE OF THE REASONS WE DID THAT WAS TO REFLECT OUR -- THE
MISSION OF OUR OFFICE, WHICH IS MUCH MORE IN LINE WITH
THE THINGS THAT YOU'LL HEAR -- HEAR JONATHAN TALKING
ABOUT TONIGHT.BUT COLLABORATING FOR EDUCATION.NOT
JUST PUTTING THE ONUS ON STUDENTS, BUT ALSO
COLLABORATING AS A UNIVERSITY COMMUNITY TO CREATE
ACCESSIBILITY FOR EVERYONE.AND IF YOU HAVE ANY
QUESTIONS ABOUT OUR OFFICE OR WANT TO KNOW MORE
INFORMATION PLEASE FEEL WELCOME TO -- TO -- THIS TABLE
OVER HERE IS GOING TO HAVE SOME PAM -- OR HAS SOME
PAMPHLETS AND THINGS ON THERE.SO IF YOU WANT MORE
INFORMATION ABOUT THE ACCESSIBLE EDUCATION CENTER,
PLEASE FEEL WELCOME TO GO IN THERE, TAKE A PAMPHLET.

THE OTHER ORGANIZATION IS THE ACCESSIBILITY STUDENT
UNION.THEY'VE DONATED A GENEROUS AMOUNT OF MONEY TO
BRING JONATHAN HERE.AND THE ACCESSIBILITY STUDENT
UNION IS A -- I WANT TO MAKE SURE I GET THIS RIGHT HERE.
IT'S A CROSS-DISABILITY, STUDENT-RUN U OF O GROUP.SO
THE GROUP CONSISTS OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES, BUT
ALSO STUDENTS WHO ARE ALLIES THAT BELIEVE THAT
DISABILITY CAN BE VALUED AND CELEBRATED, PART OF ONE'S
IDENTITY.AND THEIR MISSION IS TO RAISE AWARENESS, TO
ADVOCATE FOR EQUAL ACCESS IN BOTH PHYSICAL AND SOCIAL
ENVIRONMENTS, AND TO HAVE FUN.IT PROVIDES SUPPORT FOR
EACH OTHER.

audience:WOO HOO!

JELLAR:YOW!AUDREY MEDINA.AUDREY MEDINA, LADIES AND
GENTLEMEN.AUDREY MEDINA, WHO JUST WOO HOOED, IS A
COLLEAGUE OF MINE.SHE'S A GTF AT THE ACCESSIBLE
EDUCATION CENTER.AND SHE IS ALSO ON THE EXECUTIVE
LEADERSHIP OF THE ACCESSIBILITY STUDENT UNION.SO SHE
AND ALSO THE OTHER LEADER IS ANNIE KEENAN WHO IS ALSO
HERE.AND --

audience:WOO HOO!

JELLAR:THANK YOU, REBECCA.

audience:AND JAMES BARTIK.

JELLAR:AND JAMES BARTIK IS THE THIRD LEADER FOR
ACCESSIBILITY STUDENT UNION.AND THEY'RE LOOKING FOR
MORE STUDENT LEADERSHIP.SO IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN
BEING A PART OF THIS VERY IMPORTANT STUDENT GROUP, ALSO
PLEASE GO OVER TO THE TABLE AND PICK UP SOME -- WE HAVE
SOME PAMPHLETS AND THINGS OVER THERE.

THE THIRD GROUP THAT MADE THIS POSSIBLE WAS THE
UNIVERSITY OF OREGON LIBRARIES.THEY HAVE DONATED THEIR
TIME TO VIDEOTAPE THIS EVENT SO THAT PEOPLE WHO AREN'T
ABLE TO BE HERE TODAY ARE ABLE TO STILL EXPERIENCE
JONATHAN'S SPEECH.AND IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS, LOOK FOR A
LINK TO THAT VIDEO ON OUR WEBSITE.

SO NOW TO TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT JONATHAN.SO JONATHAN
IS A DYSLEXIC WRITER AND AN EDUCATIONAL ACTIVIST AND AN
INSPIRING SPEAKER.HE'S BEEN A SPEAKER IN MORE THAN 43
COUNTRIES.HE'S BEEN FEATURED AND QUOTED IN THE NEW
YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, NPR, THE WASHINGTON POST AND THE
BOSTON GLOBE.HE WROTE HIS FIRST BOOK BEFORE GRADUATING
FROM COLLEGE -- THAT WAS "LEARNING OUTSIDE OF THE
LINES" -- IN 2000.HE'S ALSO WRITTEN ANOTHER BOOK
CALLED "THE SHORT BUS:A JOURNEY BEYOND NORMAL."HE'S
A TRUMAN SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENT AND A RHODES SCHOLARSHIP
FINALIST.

BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY IN MY OPINION, HE'S KNOWN FOR
VIGOROUSLY, HUMOROUSLY AND PASSIONATELY GIVING VOICE TO
THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN SILENCED.PLEASE HELP ME WELCOME
JONATHAN MOONEY.

MOONEY:THANK YOU.OH, GOOD EVENING.HOW YOU ALL DOING?
YOU ALL DOING WELL?OKAY.WELL, MY NAME IS JONATHAN
MOONEY AND I'M A -- I'M REALLY DEEPLY HONORED AND
PRIVILEGED TO BE SPENDING SOME TIME WITH YOU ALL TONIGHT.

BEFORE I BEGIN, JUST A FEW PIECES OF -- OF HOUSEKEEPING
OF MY OWN.FIRST AND FOREMOST, I WANT TO RECOGNIZE THE
VARYING DIFFERENT DEPARTMENTS AND INDIVIDUALS WHO
FACILITATED ME BEING HERE THIS EVENING.

YOU KNOW, FOLKS WITH DISABILITIES ARE ONE OF THE MOST
MARGINALIZED GROUPS IN OUR SOCIETY.THEY HAVE THE
HIGHEST UNEMPLOYMENT RATES OUT OF ANY MINORITY GROUP IN
THIS COUNTRY.HIGHEST HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUT RATES.
HIGHEST INCARCERATION RATES.THIS IS A CRITICAL ISSUE.
AND ACCESSIBLE HIGHER EDUCATION IS A CENTRAL COMPONENT
OF CHANGING THOSE STATISTICS.

AND THE FOLKS WHO CAME TOGETHER TODAY TO SUPPORT THAT,
DIALOGUE ABOUT THAT AND IMAGINE A ACCESSIBLE LEARNING
ENVIRONMENT FOR PEOPLE WHO LEARN AND LIVE DIFFERENTLY
ARE ON THE FRONT LINES OF MAKING A BIG DIFFERENCE.AND
I THINK THAT DESERVES A BIG ROUND OF APPLAUSE.CAN YOU
ALL DO THAT?YEAH.

SECOND PIECE OF HOUSEKEEPING, WANT TO GIVE YOU AN IDEA
OF HOW I'D LIKE TO SPEND OUR TIME TOGETHER IF THAT'S ALL
RIGHT.YOU KNOW, I READ RECENTLY THAT THE AVERAGE HUMAN
ATTENTION SPAN -- AVERAGE HUMAN ATTENTION SPAN IS ABOUT
15 MINUTES.RIGHT?AND I THEN I READ THAT THE AVERAGE
ATTENTION SPAN OF SOMEBODY ON A WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT 7:30
IS ABOUT 15 SECONDS.RIGHT?SO I'M GOING TO DO MY BEST
TO RESPECT THAT RESEARCH AND -- AND REALLY KEEP MY -- MY
TALKING AT YOU DOWN TO A MANAGEABLE MINIMUM, AND REALLY
MAKE SURE THAT WE HAVE AMPLE TIME FOR US TO TALK
TOGETHER IN THE FORM OF QUESTIONS, ANSWERS, DIALOGUE,
CONVERSATION.

DOES THAT SOUND LIKE A GOOD WAY TO SPEND AN HOUR OR SO?
YEAH?DOES THAT WORK FOR YOU ALL?OKAY.LAST PIECE OF
HOUSEKEEPING.I AM CERTAINLY AN INDIVIDUAL WHO COULD
NOT SIT IN A CHAIR FOR EVEN 15 SECONDS.AND IF I WAS IN
YOUR SHOES, I WOULD DO -- NEED TO DO MANY THINGS TO MAKE
THIS LECTURE MORE ACCESSIBLE TO ME.SO IF YOU'RE LIKE
ME AND YOU NEED TO TAKE A BREAK WHILE I'M TALKING, YOU
NEED TO STAND IN THE BACK AND PACE BACK AND FORTH, THIS
TIME IS YOUR TIME.YOU NEED TO DO WHATEVER YOU NEED TO
DO TO MAKE IT WORK AND I WILL CERTAINLY NOT BE OFFENDED.
I MYSELF MAY WANDER OFF IN THE MIDDLE OF MY
PRESENTATION.OKAY?SO YOU ALL WILL BE ACCOMMODATING
AND UNDERSTANDING OF THOSE DIFFERENCES, RIGHT?OKAY.

SO WITH THAT SAID AND DONE, KIND OF HOUSEKEEPING OUT OF
THE WAY, MY TIME WITH YOU ALL THIS EVENING IN MANY WAYS
IS -- IS PRETTY STRAIGHTFORWARD, IT'S PRETTY SIMPLE.
YOU KNOW, I WAS ASKED HERE TONIGHT TO -- TO SHARE WITH
YOU ALL MY PERSONAL JOURNEY.MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF
GROWING UP WITH A SIGNIFICANT COGNITIVE DIFFERENCE,
LEARNING DISABILITY.MY JOURNEY THROUGH THE INSTITUTION
OF SPECIAL EDUCATION AND -- AND MY JOURNEY THROUGH
HIGHER EDUCATION.SO IN THE SPIRIT OF SHARING THAT
JOURNEY WITH YOU ALL TONIGHT, I WANT TO BEGIN BY
JUXTAPOSING OR COMPARING TWO VERY DIFFERENT EDUCATIONAL
REALITIES IN MY LIFE.

AND THEN I WANT TO SPEND THE REST OF OUR TIME TOGETHER
FILLING IN THE MIDDLE BETWEEN, WHAT WILL BECOME APPARENT
TO YOU, ARE TWO EXTREMELY DIFFERENT EXPERIENCES.

SO LET ME BEGIN NATURALLY AT THE BEGINNING.I GREW UP
IN AND AROUND LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, AND WHEN I WAS
GROWING UP, I WAS WHAT THE FOLKS IN MY SCHOOL COMMUNITY
LOVINGLY REFERRED TO AS ONE OF "THOSE" KIDS.ANYONE IN
THE AUDIENCE KNOW ANY OF -- OF "THOSE" KIDS?YEAH,
WELL, THAT WAS -- THAT WAS ME, THAT WAS JONATHAN MOONEY.
I WAS ONE OF THOSE KIDS WHO HAD SUCH A HARD TIME SITTING
STILL IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL THAT I GREW UP CHILLING OUT
WITH THE JANITOR IN THE HALLWAY.RIGHT? I WAS ONE OF
THOSE KIDS IN MIDDLE SCHOOL WHO HAD SUCH A HARD TIME
KEEPING HIS MOUTH SHUT THAT I GREW UP ON A FIRST NAME
BASIS WITH SHIRLEY THE RECEPTIONIST IN THE PRINCIPAL'S
OFFICE.RIGHT?

AND IN HIGH SCHOOL, I WAS ONE OF THOSE KIDS WHO HAD SUCH
A HARD TIME LEARNING TO READ, AND SPECIFICALLY A
TORTUROUS TIME READING OUT LOUD, I SPENT MOST OF MY HIGH
SCHOOL EXPERIENCE HIDING IN THE BATHROOM TO ESCAPE
READING OUT LOUD WITH TEARS STREAMING DOWN MY FACE.I
DID NOT LEARN TO READ UNTIL I WAS 12 YEARS OLD.COULD
NOT READ UNTIL I WAS 12 YEARS OLD.I WAS LABELED OR
DIAGNOSED WITH DYSLEXIA IN FOURTH GRADE.I WAS
DIAGNOSED WITH ADHD, WHICH STANDS FOR ATTENTION DEFICIT
HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER, IN FIFTH GRADE.AND I DROPPED
OUT OF SCHOOL FOR A YEAR IN SIXTH GRADE.

THAT YEAR WHEN I LEFT SCHOOL, TWELVE YEARS OLD, I HAD A
PLAN FOR SUICIDE.WHEN I REENROLLED IN SCHOOL, AFTER
TWO YEARS OUT OF TRADITIONAL EDUCATION, MY FIRST DAY OF
NINTH GRADE, FRESHMAN IN HIGH SCHOOL, MY GUIDANCE
COUNSELOR CALLED ME INTO HIS OFFICE, PULLED ME ASIDE AND
SAID, "JONATHAN, I GIVE YOU A 50/50 CHANCE OF GRADUATING
FROM HIGH SCHOOL.PEOPLE LIKE YOU HAVE NO PLACE IN
COLLEGE AND USUALLY END UP FLIPPING BURGERS FOR A
LIVING.THAT'S WHAT HAPPENS TO PEOPLE LIKE YOU."WHEN
I WAS 18 AND THEN I HAD GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL,
PRETTY MUCH ONLY BECAUSE I WAS GOOD AT SOCCER.I'LL BE
HONEST WITH YOU ALL, IF WASN'T FOR -- FOR BEING GOOD AT
PLAYING BALL, IF IT WASN'T BEING GOOD AT SOMETHING, I
WOULD BE A HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUT TODAY.BUT WHEN I
GRADUATED AT 18, THE SAME GENTLEMAN WHO TOLD ME I WOULD
FLIP BURGERS FOR A LIVING CALLED ME INTO HIS OFFICE AND
SAID, "JONATHAN, YOU WOULD BE LUCKY TO FLIP BURGERS
BECAUSE PEOPLE LIKE YOU USUALLY END UP INCARCERATED."
RIGHT?SO THAT WAS THE BEGINNING OF MY EDUCATIONAL
JOURNEY.IF YOU'LL BEAR WITH ME, LET ME FLASH FORWARD
TO THE END OF THAT JOURNEY. BECAUSE IT GOES WITHOUT
SAYING THAT NEITHER ONE OF THOSE VERY HOPEFUL PROPHECIES
CAME TO PASS IN MY LIFE OR IN MY EDUCATION.OPPOSED TO
FLIPPING BURGERS, AS WAS PREDICTED FOR ME, I ENDED UP
GRADUATE OF -- OF BROWN UNIVERSITY, WHICH YOU MAY OR MAY
NOT KNOW IS AN IVY LEAGUE UNIVERSITY.I GRADUATED FROM
BROWN WITH AN HONOR'S DEGREE IN, OF ALL THINGS, ENGLISH
LITERATURE.ALL RIGHT?

OPPOSED TO BEING INCARCERATED, AS WAS PREDICTED FOR ME,
I ENDED UP THE AUTHOR OF TWO BOOKS, THE FIRST OF WHICH I
WROTE AS AN UNDERGRADUATE AT BROWN UNIVERSITY.SO I
HAVE DONE MANY, MANY THINGS IN -- IN MY LIFE.GONE OFF
TO COLLEGE, WROTE SOME BOOKS, LECTURED IN MANY PLACES
AROUND THE WORLD.DONE MANY THINGS IN MY BRIEF LIFE
WITH THE EXCEPTION OF FLIPPING BURGERS OR BEING
INCARCERATED, RIGHT?NOW MY JOB TODAY WITH YOU ALL IS
TO REALLY FILL IN THE MIDDLE BETWEEN THOSE TWO EXTREMES.
MY JOB IS TO ANSWER THE VERY VALID QUESTION THAT I'M
ASKED ALL THE TIME WHEN FOLKS HEAR ABOUT SUCH A PROFOUND
JOURNEY OF CHANGE.I'M ASKED ALL THE TIME BY MOMS,
DADS, INDIVIDUALS, EDUCATORS, "JONATHAN, HOW DID YOU DO
IT?HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY GO FROM A SIXTH GRADE
DROPOUT WHO COULD NOT READ AT 12 YEARS OLD TO SOMEBODY
WHO COULD STUDY ENGLISH LITERATURE AT BROWN?HOW DID
YOU DO THAT, JONATHAN?WHAT DRUGS DID YOU TAKE, AND
WHERE CAN I BUY SOME?"ALL RIGHT?I KNOW THAT THAT IS
THE -- THE, SORT OF, QUESTION ON YOUR MIND TONIGHT, AND
I WANT TO TALK ABOUT WHAT -- WHAT CHANGED IN MY LIFE.I
WANT TO TALK ABOUT WHAT TYPES OF LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS
WERE INCLUSIVE AND ACCESSIBLE TO SOMEBODY WITH
CAPACITIES BUT CAPACITIES THAT EXPRESSED THEMSELVES IN
VARYING DIFFERENT WAYS.

SO THAT'S MY GOAL THIS EVENING, TO TALK ABOUT WHAT WERE
THOSE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS LIKE.SO IN TALKING ABOUT
THAT WITH YOU TODAY, I REALLY WANT TO TALK ABOUT THREE
THINGS.OKAY?I'M GOING TO SHARE THESE THREE THINGS
WITH YOU, THREE IDEAS ABOUT HOW WE CREATE THOSE LEARNING
ENVIRONMENTS, WHAT CONSTITUTES THOSE LEARNING
ENVIRONMENTS, AND THEN WE'RE GOING TO OPEN IT UP FOR
SOME QUESTIONS, CONVERSATION AND DIALOGUE.

SO LET ME START WITH WHAT, FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, IS THE
FOUNDATIONAL PRINCIPLE OF MY JOURNEY OF CHANGE, BUT ALSO
OF CREATING AN ACCESSIBLE AND INCLUSIVE PLACE FOR PEOPLE
WITH COGNITIVE AND PHYSICAL DIFFERENCES.THE
FOUNDATIONAL PRINCIPLE IS REALLY TO CHALLENGE OUR
DEFINITION OF WHERE DISABILITY LIES.YOU KNOW, I THINK
WE LIVE IN A CULTURE -- WE CERTAINLY HAVE CREATED A
MEDICAL FRAMEWORK THAT TELLS US THAT DISABILITY LIES IN
BODIES.RIGHT?THAT IT'S A PROBLEM WITH SOMEBODY'S
MOBILITY, OR IT'S A PROBLEM WITH THE LEFT HEMISPHERE OF
MY BRAIN WHERE DYSLEXIA SUPPOSEDLY LIES.SO WE'VE BUILT
THIS WHOLE UNDERSTANDING AS DISABILITY BEING A PROBLEM
WITHIN PEOPLE.AND SUBSEQUENTLY, WE'VE BUILT AN ENTIRE,
SORT OF, EDIFICE OF INTERVENTION THAT'S ABOUT FIXING
PEOPLE.RIGHT?AND WE SPEND MOST OF OUR TIME AND
ENERGY TRYING TO FIX THESE SO-CALLED DISABLED PEOPLE.
BUT IF YOU HANG OUT WITH FOLKS WITH COGNITIVE AND
PHYSICAL DIFFERENCES FOR ONE MOMENT AND YOU LISTEN TO
THEIR STORIES, YOU WILL HEAR THAT IT'S NOT THEIR MINDS
OR BODIES THAT TRULY DISABLE THEM, IT'S HOW ENVIRONMENTS
REACT TO THOSE DIFFERENCES.THAT'S WHERE DISABILITY
LIES.FOLKS DON'T HAVE DISABILITY, THEY EXPERIENCE
DISABILITY IN ENVIRONMENTS THAT AREN'T ACCESSIBLE AND
INCLUSIVE.RIGHT?

TALK TO FOLKS IN WHEELCHAIRS.RIGHT?SURE, THAT'S
PROBLEMATIC.SURE, THEY STRUGGLE WITH THAT, BUT THE
REAL DISABILITY IN THEIR LIFE IS WHEN BUILDINGS DON'T
HAVE RAMPS.YOU KNOW?THAT'S THE ESSENCE OF
DISABILITY.IT CHALLENGES OUR DEFINITION OF WHERE DOES
DISABILITY LIVE.SO WHAT THAT MEANS WHEN IT COMES TO
TALKING ABOUT LEARNING ENVIRONMENT, IS WE SHOULD SPEND
MORE TIME TALKING ABOUT HOW WE CHANGE THE ENVIRONMENT
THAT SURROUNDS PEOPLE AND NOT THE PEOPLE THEMSELVES.

SO YOU LOOK AT MY JOURNEY.IT REQUIRED LEARNING
ENVIRONMENTS TO NOT FIX ME, BUT TO QUESTION SOME
FOUNDATIONAL MISGUIDED BELIEFS ABOUT WHAT HUMAN BEINGS
SHOULD DO IN THOSE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS.SAID
DIFFERENTLY, JONATHAN MOONEY DIDN'T OVERCOME DYSLEXIA.
FOLKS LIKE TO SAY THAT ALL THE TIME."JONATHAN OVERCAME
DYSLEXIA."NO, I DID NOT OVERCOME DYSLEXIA.IF I
OVERCAME ANYTHING, IT WAS DYSTEACHIA.OKAY?THAT --
THAT'S WHAT I OVERCAME, RIGHT?I OVERCAME SOME
ENVIRONMENTS THAT WEREN'T BUILT FOR MY BRAIN.

SO LET'S UNDERSTAND, FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, FROM MY
EXPERIENCE, WHERE WERE THOSE ENVIRONMENTS MISDESIGNED.
WHERE WERE THEY POORLY DESIGNED?WHAT MISUNDERSTANDINGS
ABOUT HUMAN BEINGS DID THEY MAKE NORMS AND SUBSEQUENTLY
MARGINALIZED ME FROM THE PROCESS?

SO IN THINKING ABOUT THAT, IT REQUIRES US TO TALK
HONESTLY ABOUT HOW LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS, FROM MY
PERSPECTIVE, HAVE A VERY NARROW NOTION OF HUMAN
INTELLIGENCE, HUMAN BEHAVIOR, AND HUMAN MOTIVATION.AND
IT'S THAT NARROW DEFINITION OF INTELLIGENCE, BEHAVIOR
AND MOTIVATION THAT IS REALLY MY DISABILITY, NOT
DYSLEXIA, NOT ADHD.SO WHAT I WANT TO SHARE WITH NOW IS
MY THOUGHTS ON THAT NARROW DEFINITION OF INTELLIGENCE,
MOTIVATION AND BEHAVIOR AND THE IMPACT THAT THAT HAD ON
MY LIFE.

SO LET'S START FIRST AND FOREMOST, FROM MY PERSPECTIVE
AND MY EXPERIENCE, THE NARROW DEFINITION OF HUMAN
BEHAVIOR.AND I ENCOUNTERED THIS DEFINITION WHETHER IT
WAS FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN OR WHETHER IT WAS BROWN
UNIVERSITY.RIGHT?AND I THINK THIS NARROW DEFINITION
THAT REALLY DISABLED ME CAN BE SUMMED UP THIS WAY.IN
MANY LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS, WE THINK GOOD KIDS SIT STILL
AT THE SCHOOL DESK, RIGHT?AND THAT IS A DEEPLY HELD
BELIEF, RIGHT?IT IS SOMETHING WE HOLD ON TO SO DEEPLY
IN OUR CLASSROOMS THAT THE GOOD KID IS THE COMPLIANT
KID, IS THE KID WHO SITS STILL WELL.AND THAT HAD
DEVASTATING CONSEQUENCES IN MY LIFE.IT REALLY DID.

LET ME IMMERSE YOU INTO MY RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SCHOOL
DESK FOR A MOMENT, OKAY?AND -- AND IT IS A -- IT IS A
FRAUGHT AND -- AND TUMULTUOUS RELATIONSHIP.RIGHT?AND
IT'S A FIRST GRADE RELATIONSHIP, IT'S A BROWN UNIVERSITY
RELATIONSHIP.RIGHT?I SEE THAT DESK AND BEFORE I EVEN
SIT IN IT, MY HANDS START TO SWEAT, RIGHT, MY -- MY FACE
GETS ALL RED.BECAUSE I KNOW AFTER FIVE SECONDS AT THAT
DESK, FIVE SECONDS AT THAT DESK, MY FOOT IS GOING TO
START BOUNCING.RIGHT?TEN SECONDS AT THE DESK, BOTH
FEET ARE GOING TO START BOUNCING.RIGHT?FIFTEEN
SECONDS AT THE DESK, OH, I'M GOING TO BUST OUT THOSE
DRUMS.RIGHT?

TEN MINUTES AT THE DESK, IT IS ALL OVER.I AM THE KID
TRYING TO TAKE MY LEG AND PUT IT BEHIND MY NECK.RIGHT?
AND THAT YOUNG PERSON IS SHAMED BECAUSE THERE'S A DEEPLY
HELD NORM THAT GOOD KIDS ARE COMPLIANT KIDS, THAT THAT'S
THE DEFINITION OF POSITIVE HUMAN BEHAVIOR.AND SO YOUNG
FOLKS LIKE ME ARE GIVEN THE IDENTITY OF BEING BAD
BECAUSE WE DON'T FIT THAT NORM.
WE'RE SHAMED AND TOLD WE HAVE A PROBLEM.

I HEARD THAT AT HOME, TO BE HONEST WITH YOU, FROM MY
FATHER.YOU KNOW, I GREW UP IN A GOOD, OLD-SCHOOL IRISH
CATHOLIC HOUSEHOLD.AND AT THE DINNER TABLE GOOD KIDS
SAT STILL.SO I GREW UP IN HOUSEHOLD THAT PERPETUATED
THAT NORM.SO MY DAD EVERY NIGHT, "JONATHAN, WHAT'S
WRONG WITH YOU?STOP IT.STOP IT.STOP IT."AND I
GREW UP IN SCHOOLS THAT HAD THE SAME NORM.NOT ALL OF
MY CLASSROOMS, BUT MANY OF MY CLASSROOMS.NEVER FORGET,
I HAD A SECOND GRADE TEACHER NAMED MRS. C.I'VE HAD
MANY, MANY GIFTED, BRILLIANT TEACHERS WHO I'M GOING TO
CELEBRATE TONIGHT.MRS. C WAS NOT ONE OF THOSE.OKAY?
MY FOOT WOULD BE BOUNCING, SHE WOULD STOP CLASS, SHE
WOULD POINT AT ME AND SHE WOULD SAY AT THE TOP OF HER
LUNGS, "JONATHAN, WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?"RIGHT?WHAT
IS YOUR PROBLEM?IF I HAD A NICKEL FOR EVERY TIME I
HEARD THAT WORD IN MY LIFE I WOULD BE A RICH MAN TODAY,
RIGHT?

SO I WAS GIVEN THIS IDENTITY THAT I WAS A PROBLEM
BECAUSE OF A NORM IN THE ENVIRONMENT THAT GOOD KIDS SIT
STILL.AND THERE IS REAMS OF RESEARCH CHALLENGING THAT
NORM.THERE'S RESEARCH THAT SHOWS THAT MANY PEOPLE MOVE
BECAUSE IT HELPS THEM PAY ATTENTION, THAT IF THEY DON'T
MOVE, THEIR BRAINS TURN OFF.THERE'S RESEARCH THAT
SHOWS THAT THE SAME TRAIT THAT CAUSES SCHOOL PROBLEMS
CAN LEAD TO LIFE SUCCESS.RIGHT?THAT THE KID IN THE
HALLWAY, IF THEY CHANNEL THAT ENERGY, CAN BE THE CEO IN
THE BOARDROOM OR THE ARTIST IN THE GALLERY.RIGHT?
THERE'S A CORRELATION BETWEEN TRAITS AND BEHAVIORS THAT
CAUSE SCHOOL PROBLEMS AND LEAD TO LIFE SUCCESS.

MY IRISH GRANDMOTHER SAID IT BEST.SHE USED TO SAY TO
ME -- WHEN I WAS HAVING A HARD TIME, SHE WOULD SAY,
"JONATHAN, DIFFICULT CHILDREN MAKE INTERESTING ADULTS."
RIGHT?AND THERE'S TRUTH TO THAT.THERE'S TRUTH TO
THAT.BUT WE HAVEN'T BUILT LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS TO
EMBRACE THAT PARADOX.WE'VE BUILT LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS
BASED ON THE MYTH THAT APPROPRIATE AND VALUABLE HUMAN
BEHAVIOR IS ABOUT COMPLIANCE.AND WE'VE DONE ALL HUMAN
BEINGS A DISSERVICE WHEN WE'VE DONE THAT.WE'VE DONE ME
A DISSERVICE, CERTAINLY, BECAUSE I'M IN THE HALLWAY ALL
DAY, BUT WE'VE DONE EVERYONE A DISSERVICE WHEN WE
NARROWLY DEFINE HUMAN BEHAVIOR.

WE'VE ALSO NARROWLY DEFINED HUMAN INTELLIGENCE.AND IF
YOU LOOK AT THE TRUE DISABILITY IN MY LIFE, IT WAS THE
BELIEF THAT I WAS STUPID BECAUSE I DIDN'T FIT THIS
NARROW DEFINITION OF HUMAN INTELLIGENCE.AND THE NARROW
DEFINITION OF HUMAN INTELLIGENCE IN MY WORLD WAS THE
BELIEF THAT SMART PEOPLE, ABOVE ALL ELSE, READ.RIGHT?
DO YOU ALL REALIZE THE WAY THAT WE HAVE CONFLATED
READING WITH INTELLIGENCE?WE'VE CONFUSED WHAT IS
BASICALLY A SKILL WITH A GLOBAL CAPACITY OR FACULTY.
AND THAT'S DEEPLY INGRAINED IN OUR CULTURE AND IN OUR
LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS, THAT THE SMART PERSON READS.AND
IF YOU DON'T READ WELL, SOMETHING MUST BE WRONG WITH
YOU.IT'S IN OUR CULTURE, ISN'T IT?

AND I'M THE FATHER OF THREE.I GOT -- I GOT THREE BOYS
UNDER FIVE YEARS OLD.RIGHT?THREE BOYS UNDER FIVE
YEARS OLD.SO I SPEND A LOT OF TIME WITH OTHER PARENTS.
AND I'VE GOT MY OLDEST, MAX, GETTING READY TO GO TO
KINDERGARTEN.RIGHT?AND I SPEND TIME AT THE PARK WITH
MOMS AND DADS, AND EVERY TIME I'M AT THE PARK WITH THOSE
MOM AND DADS AND THEY HAVE A FIVE-YEAR-OLD, I'M ALWAYS
HEARING ABOUT HOW SMART THEIR KID IS.RIGHT?
EVERYONE'S GOT A GENIUS ON THEIR HANDS, YOU KNOW.
AND -- AND HOW DOES EVERYBODY KNOW THAT THEY'VE GOT THE
GENIUS ON THEIR HANDS?BECAUSE OF THE READING, RIGHT?
BECAUSE OF THE READING.

OH, MY KID IS SO SMART, THEY'RE READING CHAPTER BOOKS
AND THEY'RE IN PRESCHOOL.OH, MY KID IS SO SMART, THEY
KNOW ALL THEIR LETTERS AND THEY'RE THREE YEARS OLD.OH,
MY KID IS SO SMART, THEY KNOW PHONICS AND THEY'RE
IN UTERO.RIGHT?IT AIN'T EVER MY KID'S SO SMART,
THEY'RE GOOD AT BUILDING THINGS WITH THEIR HANDS.I
AIN'T EVER HEARD THAT ONE.IT AIN'T EVER MY KID'S SO
SMART, THEY'RE GOOD AT BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER
HUMAN BEINGS AND HAVE EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE.IT AIN'T
EVER MY KID'S SO SMART, THEY'RE A GOOD TALK -- IT'S
ALWAYS ABOUT THE READING.AND WE'VE LEFT SO MANY BRAINS
OUT IN THAT DEFINITION, THAT THE SMART PEOPLE READ WELL.

WELL, I STUDIED ENGLISH LITERATURE AT BROWN UNIVERSITY.
I GOT 4.0 IN ENGLISH LITERATURE AT BROWN UNIVERSITY, AND
I READ IN THE 12TH PERCENTILE TODAY, THE 12TH
PERCENTILE.I READ LIKE A THIRD GRADER TODAY.IT'S A
DEFINITION THAT WE HAVE TO CHALLENGE.IT'S A DEFINITION
THAT WE HAVE TO CHALLENGE IN OUR CULTURE, BUT IT'S
CERTAINLY A DEFINITION THAT WE HAVE TO CHALLENGE IN OUR
SCHOOLS.BECAUSE WE START TRACKING KIDS BASED ON HOW
WELL THEY CAN READ AND WRITE COME KINDERGARTEN NOW,
RIGHT?IT'S NEVER HARD TO TELL THE SMART OR THE STUPID
GROUP, IS IT?WHO REMEMBERS TRACKING FROM WHEN THEY
WERE GROWING UP?ANYBODY?LET ME ASK THE QUESTION
DIFFERENTLY.WHO REMEMBERS THE READING GROUPS FROM WHEN
THEY WERE GROWING UP?ANYBODY?COME ON NOW, LET ME ASK
YOU ALL A QUESTION.WAS IT EVER HARD TO TELL WHICH
READING GROUP WAS THE SMART READING GROUP AND WHICH
READING GROUP WAS THE STUPID READING GROUP?

IT -- IT WASN'T HARD TO TELL.RIGHT?YOU -- YOU HAD
THE BLACKBIRDS OVER HERE, YOU HAD THE BLUEBIRDS OVER
HERE, AND THEN OVER IN THE ANNEXED TRAILER BUILDING --
RIGHT? -- YOU HAD THE SPARROWS.YOU KNOW?COME ON NOW,
EVERYBODY KNOWS THE SMART GROUP AND THE STUPID GROUP.
LET ME PUT THIS THIS WAY.WHEN I WAS GROWING UP,
EVERYBODY KNEW THAT MY GROUP WAS THE STUPID GROUP
BECAUSE MY GROUP WAS A BIRD THAT DID NOT FLY.OKAY?IT
WAS AN OSTRICH AND IT RAN QUICKLY.RIGHT?AND I WAS
HANGING OUT WITH "SEE SPOT RUN" AND EVERYBODY KNEW,
EVERYBODY KNEW THAT THE CONDORS WERE THE SMART GROUP
BECAUSE THE CONDORS WERE READING WAR AND PEACE.OKAY?

IT AIN'T HARD TO TELL.THE SMART KID READS, THE SMARTER
KID READS EARLY AND THE SMARTEST KID READS EARLY AND
FAST.GOT TO CHALLENGE THAT.AND THE BRAIN SCIENCE IS
CHALLENGING THAT.MARYANNE WOLF FROM TUFT'S UNIVERSITY
HAS DONE PIONEERING WORK TO DEMONSTRATE THAT THE READING
BRAIN AIN'T NATURAL NOR NORMAL.IT'S A NEW INVENTION.
BACK IN ANCIENT GREECE IF YOU DIDN'T HAVE A TALKING
BRAIN, YOU WERE IN SPECIAL EDUCATION.RIGHT?THAT OUR
DEFINITIONS OF WHAT IS SMART IS CULTURALLY CONSTRUCTED.
THAT WE MAY BE ENTERING THE AGE IN WHICH THE READING
BRAIN IS SECONDARY TO THE BRAIN THAT CAN PROCESS VISUAL
IMAGERY.RIGHT?AND CAN DEAL WITH VISUAL
COMMUNICATION.WE HAVE TO CHALLENGE THIS IDEA THAT --
THAT THIS ONE BRAIN IS BETTER THAN ALL THE OTHER BRAINS.
BECAUSE I KNOW IN MY LIFE SOME OF THE SMARTEST PEOPLE
I'VE EVER MET, THEY DIDN'T READ WELL, THEY DIDN'T WRITE
WELL, BUT THEY COULD REBUILD THAT CAR ENGINE FROM
SCRATCH.RIGHT?AND THAT WAS A FORM OF INTELLIGENCE
THAT NEEDS TO BE NURTURED, NEEDS TO BE VALUED, NEEDS TO
BE NAMED.

INTELLIGENCE ISN'T ONE THING, IT'S MANY THINGS.RIGHT?
AND WE NEED TO ASK A DIFFERENT QUESTION ABOUT YOUNG
FOLKS AND STUDENTS AND OURSELVES.WE SHOULDN'T BE
ASKING OURSELVES HOW SMART AM I, WE SHOULD BE ASKING HOW
AM I SMART.RIGHT?BECAUSE WHEN WE ASK THAT QUESTION,
WE OPEN UP A REALITY THAT EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US IN THIS
ROOM HAVE A CAPACITY THAT WE CAN GROW, THAT WE CAN --
THAT WE CAN BUILD OUR LIFE ON, THAT ADDS VALUE TO A
COMMUNITY, TO A CULTURE AND TO A SOCIETY.

SO I HAD TO OVERCOME THAT NARROW DEFINITION.I HAD TO
OVERCOME NOT DYSLEXIA, BUT THE FEELING THAT I WAS DUMB
BECAUSE I DIDN'T HAVE ONE OF THOSE READING BRAINS.AND
I HAD TO OVERCOME NOT ADHD, BUT I HAD TO OVERCOME THE
FEELING OF BEING THE DEFECTIVE PERSON MORALLY BECAUSE I
DIDN'T COMPLY TO THE MYTH THAT GOOD KIDS ARE COMPLIANT.
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, I HAD TO OVERCOME THE PERVASIVE
MESSAGE THAT I WAS THE LAZY KID, WHICH WAS GROUNDED IN A
FUNDAMENTAL MISUNDERSTANDING OR NARROW UNDERSTANDING OF
HUMAN MOTIVATION.

BECAUSE THAT'S THE OTHER THING I HEAR ALL THE TIME.I
HEAR THAT FOLKS LIKE ME ARE -- ARE -- ARE LAZY.RIGHT?
AND THAT'S OFTEN AN ACCUSATION THAT IS LEVERAGED AT
SOMEBODY WHEN THEY ARE EVALUATING MOTIVATION THROUGH THE
LENS OF EXTRINSIC MOTIVATION.RIGHT?DIFFERENT WAYS TO
BE MOTIVATED, BUT THE DOMINANT WAY THAT WE BELIEVE HUMAN
BEINGS ARE MOTIVATED IS THROUGH EXTRINSIC MOTIVATION.
RIGHT?A DESIRE FOR REWARDS OR A FEAR OF PUNISHMENT.
GOLD STARS OR DETENTION.STICKS OR CARROTS.AND
SUBSEQUENTLY, WE HAVE DESIGNED LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS
AROUND THOSE MOTIVATION DRIVERS.RIGHT?THE GOLD STARS
AND THE DETENTION.NOW THAT WORKS FOR SOME FOLKS, IT
DOES.BUT THERE'S A WHOLE GROUP OF FOLKS FOR WHOM THAT
DOESN'T WORK FOR AT ALL.RIGHT?

GIVE YOU THE BEST EXAMPLE OF ONE OF THOSE FOLKS THAT
I'VE MET.AND THIS CAME AFTER I GAVE A TALK LIKE THIS,
BUT IT WAS REALLY GEARED TOWARDS FAMILIES.AND AFTER I
GAVE THIS TALK, THIS FATHER CAME UP TO ME.AND HE HAD
HIS 17-YEAR-OLD SON WITH HIM, 17-YEAR-OLD SON.AND HE
CAME UP TO ME AND HE SAID, "JONATHAN, I HEARD WHAT YOU
HAD TO SAY ABOUT -- ABOUT NARROW DEFINITION OF HUMAN
MOTIVATION, WHATNOT, BUT I DON'T BELIEVE IT.MY KID IS
LAZY," HE SAID.AND I WANTED TO RESPECT THE -- THE
MAN'S OPINION.I -- I DIDN'T KNOW HIM.SO I -- I ASKED
HIM, "TELL -- TELL ME WHY YOU THINK YOUR SON IS LAZY."

AND THE 17-YEAR-OLD BOY WAS RIGHT THERE.AND THE FATHER
WENT ON TO DESCRIBE THE SCHOOL WEEK.RIGHT?AND HE
TOLD ME HOW HIS SON WOULDN'T GET OUT OF BED IN THE
MORNING, TOLD ME HOW HIS SON WOULDN'T TURN THINGS IN.
TOLD ME HOW HIS SON SEEMED APATHETIC AND DISENGAGED WITH
EVERYTHING THAT WAS HAPPENING IN SCHOOL.AND I GRANTED
HIM THAT IT SEEMED LIKE HIS SON WAS -- WAS VERY
UNMOTIVATED.AND THEN I TURNED TO THE 17-YEAR-OLD.AND
I SAID, "OKAY, MAN, I HEARD WHAT YOUR FATHER HAD TO SAY
ABOUT THE SCHOOL WEEK.NOW TELL ME ABOUT THE WEEKEND."
RIGHT?YOU THINK YOU GOT A LAZY YOUNG PERSON IN FRONT
OF YOU?ASK ABOUT THEIR TIME.RIGHT?NOT THEIR
SCHEDULED OR PRESCRIBED TIME, BUT THEIR TIME.SO I
TURNED TO THE YOUNG MAN, I SAID, "TELL ME ABOUT THE
WEEKEND."AND THE YOUNG MAN SAID HE SPENT MOST HIS
WEEKEND -- OF HIS WEEKEND IN HIS ROOM.AND THE FATHER
JUMPED IN AND SAID, "SEE, HE'S LAZY, LAZY."WELL, I
SAID, "HOLD UP, WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN YOUR ROOM?"AND
THE YOUNG MAN SAID, "WELL, I'M ON MY COMPUTER."AND DAD
ROLLED HIS EYES, YOU KNOW, BIG SIGH.RIGHT?AND I SAID
TO THE YOUNG MAN, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON YOUR COMPUTER?"
AND YOUNG MAN SAID, YOU KNOW, "I'M DESIGNING VIDEO GAMES
ON MY COMPUTER."RIGHT?

AND I SAID, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THE VIDEO GAMES
THAT YOU DESIGNED?"AND HE SAID, "I'M SELLING THEM TO
MY FRIENDS."THIS SO-CALLED LAZY KID WAS SPENDING 15
HOURS A DAY WITH HIGH-LEVEL COMPUTER PROGRAMMING, WITH
HIGH-LEVEL MATH, WITH HIGH-LEVEL GRAPHIC DESIGN SKILLS
AND WITH HIGH-LEVEL ENTREPRENEURSHIP EXPERIENCES, AND
PEOPLE CALLED HIM LAZY.WRONG LENS OF MOTIVATION.YES,
THIS YOUNG PERSON WASN'T EXTRINSICALLY MOTIVATED.
DIDN'T CARE ABOUT THE GOLD STARS OR DETENTION DURING THE
SCHOOL WEEK.THIS YOUNG PERSON WAS INTRINSICALLY
MOTIVATED.INTRINSIC MOTIVATION IS VERY DIFFERENT,
RIGHT?INTRINSIC MOTIVATION ARE DRIVERS LIKE AUTONOMY,
MASTERY AND PURPOSE.AUTONOMY, MASTERY AND PURPOSE.

AND WHEN THE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT OR ANY ENVIRONMENT IS
BUILT AROUND THOSE DRIVERS, SEEMINGLY DISENGAGED FOLKS
WHO STRUGGLE WITH ENGAGEMENT AND MOTIVATION CAN OFTEN
BECOME THE VIDEO GAME ENTREPRENEUR WHO ARE SELLING
THINGS TO THEIR FRIENDS.RIGHT?IT'S A RADICAL
REFRAMING OF HOW WE THINK ABOUT MOTIVATION.BUT YET
WE'VE BUILT MOST OUR LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS WITH THE
STICKS AND CARROTS, WITH THE GOLD STARS AND DETENTION.
WE'VE BUILT MOST OF OUR LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS TELLING
PEOPLE WHEN TO THINK, HOW TO THINK AND WHAT TO THINK.
AND WE'VE NEGATED THE POWER OF CHOICE, AND THE POWER OF
LETTING FOLKS CRAFT AN EDUCATION THAT IS GROUNDED IN
THEIR ASPIRATIONS, THEIR VISION FOR THEMSELVES.RIGHT?
AND WHEN WE DO THAT, WE SEE FOLKS WHO ARE TRADITIONALLY
DISENGAGED BECOME EXCEPTIONALLY ENGAGED.AGAIN, THAT
HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH MY INATTENTIVE ADD, IT HAD TO DO
WITH THE NORM OF THE ENVIRONMENT.AND WHEN THE
ENVIRONMENT CHANGED, MY EXPERIENCE CHANGED.SO
INCLUSIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS REQUIRE US TO RETHINK
WHERE DISABILITY IS.IT AIN'T IN BODIES, IT'S IN THE
INTERACTION OF DIFFERENCE WITH ENVIRONMENT.THAT'S
WHERE DISABILITY OR EMPOWERMENT OCCURS.AND IN
RETHINKING THOSE ENVIRONMENTS, WE'VE GOT TO CHALLENGE
THAT MYTH THAT GOOD PEOPLE ARE COMPLIANT, THAT NARROW
DEFINITION OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR.AND CHALLENGE THAT MYTH
THAT WHAT IT MEANS TO BE SMART IS TO READ.THERE ARE
MANY VERY BRIGHT PEOPLE WHO STRUGGLE TREMENDOUSLY WITH
THAT TRADITIONAL SKILL SET.AND THEY ADD VALUE NOT
DESPITE THAT STRUGGLE, BUT OFTEN BECAUSE OF THAT STRUGGLE.

AND LASTLY, IT REQUIRES US TO RETHINK HOW WE FRAME
MOTIVATION.HOW DO WE BUILD LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS THAT
EMBRACE INTRINSIC MOTIVATION, AUTONOMY, MASTERY AND
PURPOSE?AND EVERY LEARNING ENVIRONMENT THAT EMPOWERED
ME, THAT I FELT INCLUDED IN, THAT WAS ACCESSIBLE, HAD
THAT AS ITS CORE.AND THAT WAS THE FIRST AND MOST
IMPORTANT STEP.BUT IT WASN'T THE LAST.RIGHT?

BECAUSE I TOLD YOU I WENT ON THIS JOURNEY FROM THE KID
WHO HID IN THE BATHROOM TO THE PERSON IN FRONT OF YOU
BECAUSE OF THREE THINGS.ONE, A REDEFINITION OF WHERE
DISABILITY LIES.THAT WAS NUMBER ONE.

NOW LET ME TELL YOU ALL ABOUT NUMBER TWO.OKAY?A
CENTRAL COMPONENT OF MY JOURNEY WAS IN IDENTITY
TRANSFORMATION FROM BEING A PATIENT TO BEING AN AGENT IN
THE PROCESS.YOU KNOW I TOLD YOU ALL THAT BECAUSE WE
MISDEFINE WHERE DISABILITY LIES, WE THINK IT'S IN
BODIES, WE'VE BUILT THIS ENTIRE SORT OF INFRASTRUCTURE,
A FRIEND OF MINE CALLS IT THE DISABILITY INDUSTRIAL
COMPLEX.RIGHT?WE'VE BUILT THIS WHOLE INFRASTRUCTURE
ABOUT FIXING FOLKS, ABOUT TURNING PEOPLE INTO PASSIVE
RECIPIENTS OF TREATMENT AND SERVICE, OF TURNING PEOPLE
INTO PATIENTS.

BUT BEING A PATIENT IS THE MOST DISEMPOWERED PLACE A
HUMAN BEING CAN BE.THE GREEK ROOT FOR THE WORD
PATIENT, THE ORIGIN OF THE WORD, IS TO BE FLAT ON YOUR
BACK.THAT'S NOT A PLACE WHERE SOMEBODY BUILDS A LIFE
FROM.SO WE NEED TO CULTIVATE A SENSE OF AGENCY IN
PEOPLE, WHICH IS THE OPPOSITE OF PATIENTHOOD.AND IN MY
LIFE THE MOST MEANINGFUL INTERVENTIONS, THE MOST
MEANINGFUL PEOPLE IN MY LIFE WERE PEOPLE WHO CULTIVATED
A SENSE OF AGENCY.AND I WANT TO TELL YOU ALL A LITTLE
BIT ABOUT THEM AND HOW THEY CULTIVATED THAT SENSE OF
AGENCY.

WELL, THE FIRST PERSON WHO DID THAT WAS MY MOTHER.I
WOULD NOT BE HERE IF IT WASN'T FOR COLLEEN MOONEY.
OKAY?SO I WANT TO GIVE YOU A MENTAL IMAGE OF MY MOM
BEFORE I TELL YOU WHAT SHE DID TO CULTIVATE AGENCY.

SO YOU CAN SEE HER IN YOUR MIND.MY MOTHER, NOT A TALL
WOMAN, ON A GOOD DAY IN HIGH HEELS ON HER TIPPY TOES,
SHE'S ABOUT 4'11.ALL RIGHT?SHE'S A LITTLE IRISH
BULLDOG.YOU KNOW?MY MOTHER, NOT A WEALTHY WOMAN,
RAISED MY BROTHER AND TWO SISTERS ON WELFARE IN SAN
FRANCISCO.MY MOTHER, NOT AN EDUCATED WOMAN, NEVER WENT
TO COLLEGE, MOST LIKELY UNDIAGNOSED DYSLEXIC, STRUGGLED
PROFOUNDLY WITH READING, HAD A LOT OF LOW EXPECTATIONS
SURROUNDING HER IN HER CHILDHOOD, HER EDUCATION.SO MY
MOTHER WAS OFTEN, SORT OF, DISMISSED.SHE WASN'T TAKEN
SERIOUSLY BY THE SCHOOL FOLKS IN MY LIFE.SHE WASN'T
TALL, SHE WASN'T WEALTHY, SHE WASN'T EDUCATED AND SHE
ALSO HAD A VERY FUNNY VOICE.SHE HAD A VERY HIGH
PITCHED, SQUEAKY VOICE LIKE MICKEY MOUSE.BUT FOLKS
DISMISSED HER AT THEIR OWN PERIL.OKAY?BECAUSE SHE
WASN'T TALL, SHE WASN'T WEALTHY, SHE WASN'T EDUCATED,
YES, SHE SOUNDED LIKE MICKEY MOUSE, BUT MY MOTHER, SHE
CURSED LIKE A TRUCK DRIVER.OKAY?AND I'LL ASK YOU A
QUESTION, IF YOU'RE A PRINCIPAL OR A TEACHER OR A SOCIAL
WORKER, DID YOU WANT CURSING MICKEY MOUSE IN YOUR
OFFICE?ALL RIGHT?THE ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION, IF
YOU'RE AT ALL CONFUSED, IS NO.OKAY?BUT GUESS WHERE
MY MOTHER WAS EVERY DAY?WHEN SOMETHING WASN'T GOING
RIGHT FOR HER SON, SHE WAS -- SHE WAS IN THAT OFFICE.
HOW -- HOW DID WE KNOW SHE WAS IN THAT OFFICE?BECAUSE
EVERY DOG IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD WAS RUNNING AWAY.ONLY
BATS COULD HEAR HER HIGH-PITCHED OBSCENITIES, RIGHT?MY
MOTHER -- MY MOTHER WAS A VOCIFEROUS ADVOCATE FOR ME.
AND THE CENTRAL COMPONENT OF MY RELATIONSHIP FOR HER,
SOMETHING SHE SAID EVERY DAY, WAS YOU DON'T NEED
SOMEBODY TO FIX YOU, YOU NEED SOMEBODY TO FIGHT FOR YOU
AND WITH YOU.BECAUSE WHAT'S HAPPENING TO YOU IS AN
INJUSTICE.WHEN I LOOK AT MY MOM'S ROLE IN CULTIVATING
AGENCY IN MY LIFE, IT WAS THAT DISCOURSE AND
CONVERSATION OF INJUSTICE THAT WAS CENTRAL TO IT.

BECAUSE THAT AIN'T USUALLY HOW WE TALK ABOUT IT.WE
USUALLY TALK ABOUT IT AS A FAULT OR PROBLEM IN PEOPLE.
IF IT'S A DISEASE, IT'S AIN'T AN INJUSTICE THAT YOU'RE
STRUGGLING.BUT IF YOU ARE A MINORITY AND YOUR
EXPERIENCE REPRESENTS A FORM OF DIVERSITY THAT FOLKS
AREN'T ACCOMMODATING OR CELEBRATING, WHAT'S HAPPENING TO
YOU IS WRONG.AND MY MOM SAID THAT TO ME EVERY SINGLE
DAY.
SHE SAID, "IT AIN'T RIGHT FOR YOU TO BE IN THE HALLWAY,
IT AIN'T RIGHT FOR YOU TO BE IN THE BATHROOM."IT AIN'T
RIGHT FOR SOMEBODY TO BE MARGINALIZED BECAUSE OF A
DIFFERENCE.IT ISN'T RIGHT.IT ISN'T RIGHT IF THAT
DIFFERENCE IS THE COLOR OF SOMEBODY'S SKIN, IT ISN'T
RIGHT IF THAT DIFFERENCE IS THEIR SEXUALITY OR THEIR
GENDER OR WHAT NEIGHBORHOOD THEY COME FROM, AND IT ISN'T
RIGHT IF THE DIFFERENCE IS IN HOW YOU LEARN.MY MOTHER
MADE A DIRECT LINKAGE TO A RIGHTS DIVERSITY
CONVERSATION.AND THAT'S A LINKAGE WE HAVE TO MAKE.IN
OUR BROADER DISCOURSE, IN OUR INDIVIDUAL INTERACTIONS
WITH YOUNG PEOPLE AND STUDENTS, AND IN OUR OWN LIFE.
BECAUSE I'M NOT GONNA FIGHT AND ADVOCATE FOR MYSELF IF
I'M THE SICK PATIENT WHO SHOULD BE CURED.IF I'M THE
PERSON GETTING LEFT BEHIND BECAUSE OF A DIFFERENCE, I'M
ANGRY AND I'M GONNA FIGHT.AND THAT BECOMES THE
CENTERPIECE TO MY EXPERIENCE.RIGHT?

I NEED TO CULTIVATE A RIGHTS-BASED PARADIGM, A DIVERSITY
FRAMEWORK, AND I NEED TO BECOME AN ADVOCATE AGAINST WHAT
IS A FORM OF DISCRIMINATION AND MARGINALIZATION.AND
THAT'S AN IMPORTANT TRANSITION IN AGENCY, RIGHT, AND MY
MOM PLAYED AN ESSENTIAL ROLE IN THAT.BUT THERE WERE
OTHER PEOPLE WHO PLAYED A BIG ROLE IN THAT, AND THAT'S
THE EDUCATORS IN MY LIFE.AND I WANT TO TALK A LITTLE
BIT ABOUT HOW THEY CULTIVATED AGENCY.RIGHT?BECAUSE
MY MOTHER'S OVER HERE TELLING ME, "LOOK MAN, YOU'VE GOT
TO FIGHT AGAINST THIS, YOU'VE GOT TO BE AN ADVOCATE,
YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE A VOICE IN YOUR EDUCATION."

AND THEN I HAD EDUCATORS IN MY LIFE, PARTICULARLY
EDUCATORS IN MY HIGHER EDUCATION, WHO WERE CONSISTENTLY
CULTIVATING THE LANGUAGE OF HIGH EXPECTATIONS FOR ME.
WHO HELPED ME SEE THINGS IN MYSELF BEFORE I EVEN SAW
THEM.RIGHT?AND ONE OF THE MOST MEANINGFUL EDUCATORS
WHO DID THAT WAS AN EDUCATOR AT MY FIRST COLLEGE BEFORE
BROWN UNIVERSITY, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY IN LOS
ANGELES.AND I WENT TO LMU REALLY TO JUST BE AN
ATHLETE.YOU KNOW, I WENT THERE ON DIVISION ONE SOCCER
SCHOLARSHIP.I THOUGHT I WAS THE DUMB JOCK, THAT WAS
IT.RIGHT?I HAD NO INTEREST IN MY EDUCATIONAL
EXPERIENCE.I WAS GOING TO PLAY BALL.THAT WAS IT.SO
I GOT TO LMU AND -- AND IN THE FIRST WEEK, WE HAD TO GO
AROUND AS A TEAM AND LISTEN TO ALL THE DIFFERENT
DEPARTMENTS GIVE THEIR -- THEIR PITCH.RIGHT?DECIDE
WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO MAJOR IN.AND I WENT TO THE
PITCHES, AND -- AND I WAS SO DISENGAGED.RIGHT?DIDN'T
THINK I HAD ANY PLACE AS A LEARNER.MANY OF THEM WERE
BORING, LET'S BE HONEST ABOUT THAT.AND I WAS
DISENGAGED.BUT THEN I GOT TO THE ENGLISH DEPARTMENT,
ENGLISH DEPARTMENT, AND I'LL NEVER FORGET.THERE WAS A
FACULTY MEMBER, SHAKESPEARE SCHOLAR NAMED FATHER YOUNG.
FATHER YOUNG WAS THE CHAIR OF THE DEPARTMENT.AND HE
WAS UP THERE TALKING ABOUT SHAKESPEARE AND LITERATURE
AND NARRATIVE LIKE HIS HEAD WAS ON FIRE.RIGHT?MAN
THOUGHT NOTHING WAS MORE IMPORTANT IN THE WHOLE WORLD
THAN LITERATURE AND CARING ABOUT IT.AND THAT WAS
INFECTIOUS.RIGHT?I FELT THAT, YOU KNOW.SO I WENT
UP TO FATHER YOUNG AFTERWARDS BECAUSE I HAD ALWAYS HAD
AN INTEREST IN STORIES, NARRATIVE.DIDN'T READ, DIDN'T
WRITE WELL, BUT BELIEVED IN NARRATIVE.

SO I WENT UP TO HIM AND I SAID, "OKAY, YOU KNOW, I'M --
I'M FEELING WHAT YOU HAD TO SAY ABOUT THE ENGLISH
DEPARTMENT, MAN.I'M GOING TO DECLARE AN ENGLISH
LITERATURE MAJOR HERE AT LMU.WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT
THAT, FATHER YOUNG?"AND FATHER YOUNG SAID, "IT'S A
GREAT IDEA."AND I SAID, "BUT -- BUT I'M DYSLEXIC.I
DON'T KNOW IF I CAN DO IT.I -- I DON'T READ WELL, I
READ IN THE 12TH PERCENTILE.I SPELL LIKE A THIRD
GRADER," I SAID TO HIM.WHICH IS TRUE."I DON'T KNOW
IF I CAN DO IT.WHAT DO YOU THINK, FATHER YOUNG?"AND
HE LOOKED AT ME AND HE SAID, "W. B. YEATS WAS DYSLEXIC.
IF THAT GUY CAN DO IT, YOU CAN DO IT.

JOHN IRVING, MOST FAMOUS LIVING AMERICAN NOVELIST, THAT
GUY ALMOST FAILED OUT OF SCHOOL BECAUSE OF HIS DYSLEXIA.
IF HE COULD DO IT, YOU CAN DO IT.I SEE SOMETHING IN
YOU."NOBODY HAD EVER SAID THAT TO ME IN MY ENTIRE
LIFE.RIGHT?NOBODY.SO I WAS EXCITED.AND I LEFT
THAT GUY'S OFFICE.AND THEN I WENT ON OVER TO MY
ACADEMIC COUNSELOR.RIGHT?AND THIS PERSON WAS
SUPPOSED TO GUIDE ME THROUGH MY EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE,
RIGHT?AND THAT ACADEMIC COUNSELOR ALSO HAD WITH HIM MY
FILE.YOU ALL KNOW THE FILE, RIGHT?YOU KNOW, THIS HAS
BEEN THE THING THAT HAS BEEN FOLLOWING ME SINCE I
STARTED SPECIAL EDUCATION, YOU KNOW.AND THOSE -- THOSE
THINGS ARE THICK AND DEEP.KGB GOT NOTHING ON SPECIAL
ED, YOU KNOW?LIKE,THEY -- THEY -- THEY DO THEIR
DILIGENCE.RIGHT?AND SO THEY HAD EVERYTHING ABOUT ME.
YOU KNOW, EVERYTHING.
AND SO THE GUY, I TELL HIM I'M GOING TO STUDY ENGLISH
LITERATURE, AND -- AND HE BRINGS OUT MY FILE, AND THE
THING LANDS ON THE DESK WITH A THUD.YOU KNOW, BAM.
GUY STARTS FLIPPING THROUGH THE FILE.RIGHT?HE'S JUST
SHAKING HIS HEAD,HE'S LIKE, "YOU DON'T READ WELL.
ENGLISH LITERATURE?"MUTTERING UNDER HIS BREATH."YOU
DON'T WRITE WELL.YOU CAN HARDLY PAY ATTENTION."
RIGHT?"YOU SHOULD CONSIDER SOMETHING LESS
INTELLECTUAL."THAT'S WHAT HE SAID TO ME.SOMETHING
LESS INTELLECTUAL.AIN'T GONNA WORK.SO I WENT BACK TO
FATHER YOUNG, AND I SAID, "FATHER YOUNG, YOU DON'T NEED
TO SIGN THE PAPER ANYMORE BECAUSE I'M NOT GOING TO STUDY
ENGLISH LITERATURE HERE."AND HE SAID, "WHY, WHY, WHY?"
AND THEN I SAID, YOU KNOW, "THEY -- THEY THOUGHT IT WAS
TOO HARD FOR ME.I'M DYSLEXIC.TOLD YOU I DON'T READ
WELL.COULDN'T DO IT."AND FATHER YOUNG LOOKED AT ME,
AND HE SAID, IN A WAY THAT ONLY AN OLD-SCHOOL JESUIT
CAN, HE SAID, "WELL, SON YOU'RE JUST GOING TO HAVE TO
PROVE THAT BASTARD WRONG."RIGHT?AND THE NEXT DAY I
ENROLLED IN FOUR ENGLISH LITERATURE CLASSES.AND THE
GUY WHO TOLD ME I SHOULD STUDY SOMETHING LESS
INTELLECTUAL, WELL, HE'S GOT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF BOTH
OF MY BOOKS ON HIS DESK RIGHT NOW.ALL RIGHT?
THAT'S AGENCY.AND THAT'S SOMEBODY WHO REFUSES TO
NEGATE SOMEBODY'S HUMANITY BECAUSE OF A LABEL.YOU
KNOW, WE SPEND SO MUCH TIME TALKING ABOUT THE PROBLEM,
WE LOSE THE PERSON.RIGHT?AND WE SPEND SO MUCH TIME
CAPTURED IN THIS LANGUAGE OF DEFICIT THAT WE LOWER
EXPECTATIONS FOR FOLKS LIKE ME.YOU KNOW, GEORGE W.
BUSH ONCE SAID THAT THERE'S THIS A SOFT BIGOTRY OF LOW
EXPECTATION IN THIS COUNTRY FOR CERTAIN GROUPS.AND I
DON'T GO AROUND QUOTING GEORGE W. BUSH ALL THAT OFTEN AS
YOU CAN IMAGINE, BUT HE GOT THAT RIGHT.WE LOSE -- WE
VIEW PEOPLE THROUGH THAT LENS AND WE LOWER THE BAR, AND
WE NEED TO RAISE IT.
NOW, THE THING ABOUT FATHER YOUNG -- BECAUSE I TOOK
EVERY CLASS YOU COULD TAKE.YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU FIND
THAT -- THAT -- THAT INTELLECTUAL, THAT MIND THAT --
THAT -- THAT IS JUST ON FIRE, YOU WANT TO BE AROUND
THAT.SO I TOOK EVERY CLASS WITH THAT GUY.AND THIS
GUY WAS NOTORIOUS.YOU ALL KNOW JESUITS, OLD SCHOOL,
MAN.THIS GUY WAS -- WAS NOTORIOUS FOR BEING ONE OF THE
MOST RIGOROUS PROFESSORS IN THE ENTIRE INSTITUTION.I
TOOK EVERY ONE OF HIS CLASSES.AND I REMEMBER THE FIRST
CLASS I TOOK WAS A SURVEY OF SHAKESPEAREAN LITERATURE.
SURVEY OF THE PLAYS, MAJOR PLAYS.AND THE FIRST PLAY WE
READ WAS KING LEAR.AND THE CLASS HAD TWO WEEKS TO READ
IT, COME BACK, TALK ABOUT.FATHER YOUNG PULLED ME
ASIDE, AND HE SAID, "JONATHAN, YOU HAVE FOUR DAYS TO
COME BACK AND TALK ABOUT THIS PLAY."I SAID, "FOUR
DAYS, MAN?WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?"LIKE, WHAT
ABOUT DYSLEXIA DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?YOU KNOW.DON'T
READ WELL, MAN.WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?OTHER GUYS
GOT 14 DAYS, I GOT FOUR.WHAT?WHAT DO YOU MEAN?
FATHER YOUNG LOOKED AT ME AND HE SAID, "I DIDN'T SAY YOU
HAD TO READ IT.IT'S A PLAY FOR GOD'S SAKES.HERE'S
THE ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY PERFORMING IT IN 1985,
BRILLIANT PERFORMANCE.WATCH IT.HERE'S A WEBSITE
WHERE YOU CAN LISTEN TO AUDIO RECORDINGS OF EVERY
SHAKESPEAREAN DRAMA.LISTEN TO IT."YOU KNOW, REAL
INTELLECTUALS, THEY DON'T CARE HOW YOU GET THERE, THEY
JUST WANT YOU TO GET THERE.
THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT PROCESS, THEY CARE ABOUT IDEAS.
THESE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE ON FIRE ABOUT THE BIG IDEAS IN
THE WORLD, AND THE OTHER STUFF IS MINUTIA.RIGHT?AND
THAT'S WHAT FATHER YOUNG BELIEVED, THAT'S WHAT HE
UNDERSTOOD.HE WAS GOING TO HOLD ME TO THE HIGHEST
EXPECTATIONS, HIGHER EXPECTATIONS THAN THE REST OF THE
CLASS, BUT HE WAS GOING TO GIVE ME MULTIPLE WAYS TO
REACH THOSE EXPECTATIONS.AND THAT IS WHAT AN AGENCY
EDUCATION IS ALL ABOUT.I DIDN'T HAVE TO ARGUE WITH
THIS GUY ABOUT WHETHER WE NEEDED TO TAKE TIME EXTENSIONS
OR NOT.BECAUSE HE UNDERSTOOD THAT HOW WELL I KNOW
SOMETHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN HOW FAST I KNOW
SOMETHING.HE UNDERSTOOD THAT WE'RE NOT TRYING TO
EDUCATE A GENERATION OF JEOPARDY CONTESTANTS.RIGHT?
WHY -- WHY IS TIME THE DETERMINING FACTOR, RIGHT?SO HE
UNDERSTOOD THAT IF YOU GET SOMEBODY INTERESTED IN THESE
IDEAS, WE GOT TO NURTURE THAT.AND WE HAVE TO
ACCOMMODATE AND CHANGE THE ENVIRONMENT.AND THAT WAS A
POWERFUL EXPERIENCE OF AGENCY, RIGHT?OF HIGH
EXPECTATIONS WITH DIFFERENT MULTIPLE WAYS TO REACH THOSE
EXPECTATIONS.
AND THAT WAS THE SECOND FOUNDATION OF AN INCLUSIVE
LEARNING ENVIRONMENT, A TRANSITION FROM PATIENTHOOD TO
AGENCY.AND IN MY LIFE, MY MOTHER DID IT BY CULTIVATING
THE LANGUAGE OF INJUSTICE, CULTIVATING THE LANGUAGE OF
DISCRIMINATION.AND EDUCATORS IN MY LIFE LIKE FATHER
YOUNG DID IT WITH HIGH EXPECTATIONS, BUT MULTIPLE WAYS
TO REACH THOSE EXPECTATIONS WITH A FLEXIBILITY IN THE
CLASSROOM THAT WAS INCLUSIVE OF LEARNING DIVERSITY AND
SAW IT AS VALUABLE.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST.I TOLD YOU THERE WERE THREE, RIGHT?
I'M NOT ONE OF THOSE STATISTICS BECAUSE I HAD AN
OPPORTUNITY TO REDEFINE DISABILITY, WHERE IT LIVED.I
HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO BECOME AN AGENT IN MY LIFE AND AN
ADVOCATE IN MY LIFE.AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, I HAD THE
OPPORTUNITY IN MY LIFE TO SWITCH FROM A DEFICIT PARADIGM
TO AN ASSET-BASED STRENGTH PARADIGM.AGAIN, THAT SORT
OF DISABILITY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX IS ALL ABOUT WHAT
PEOPLE CAN'T DO.AND WE SPEND MOST OF OUR TIME TRYING
TO FIX WHAT THEY CAN'T DO.BUT THE PROBLEM IS WHEN ALL
WE DO IS FIX PEOPLE, THE MESSAGE WE GIVE TO THEM IS THAT
THEY ARE BROKEN.NOBODY LIVES A MEANINGFUL LIFE FEELING
BROKEN.NOBODY HAS THAT AS THE CENTERPIECE OF THEIR
LIFE AS A ENGAGED HUMAN BEING, FEELING BROKEN.
SO IT'S ESSENTIAL THAT WE CULTIVATE THAT CAPABILITY
FRAMEWORK, THAT ASSET-BASED FRAMEWORK.AND IF YOU LOOK
AT MY LIFE, IT WAS THAT AS A HUGE BREAK POINT, RIGHT?
THE MOMENT THAT I COULD SWITCH FROM WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME
TO WHAT'S RIGHT WITH ME WAS A SIGNIFICANT PART OF MY
JOURNEY.AND AGAIN, MY MOTHER HAD A -- A BIG ROLE IN
THAT.I MEAN, A BIG ROLE IN MY LIFE BUT A BIG ROLE IN
THAT.
AND I WANT TO TELL YOU ABOUT HOW SHE MADE THAT REAL.
BECAUSE MOST OF MY EDUCATION, ESPECIALLY MY YOUNGER
EDUCATION, WAS ALL ABOUT WHAT I COULDN'T DO.YOU KNOW.
AND WE TRIED EVERYTHING TO FIX ME, RIGHT, AND WE
SPECIFICALLY SPENT THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS, THOUSANDS OF
HOURS ON TRYING TO FIX ONE TRAIT, FRANKLY PERHAPS THE
MOST IRRELEVANT TRAIT IN THE WORLD IN THE 21ST CENTURY,
AND THAT IS SPELLING.RIGHT?GOD BLESS SPELL CHECKER,
YOU KNOW.BUT IF YOU LOOK AT THE ENERGY GONE INTO
FIXING SPELLING, TO WORRYING ABOUT SPELLING, IT'S
STAGGERING ISN'T IT?RIGHT?AND THAT WAS MY EDUCATION.
RIGHT?EVERY SINGLE FRIDAY IN FOURTH GRADE WAS SPELLING
TEST DAY, RIGHT?WHAT A WONDERFUL WAY TO END THE WEEK,
YOU KNOW.
AND ALL WEEK WE INVESTED TIME, MONEY AND RELATIONSHIP
CAPITAL ON FIXING THAT IRRELEVANT TRAIT.WE WOULD SPEND
THREE HOURS ON MONDAY DOING FLASH CARDS.RIGHT?AND
THEN ON TUESDAY, WE WOULD SPEND THREE HOURS DRAWING THE
WORDS IN THE SAND.AND THEN ON WEDNESDAY, WE WOULD
SPEND THREE HOURS BUILDING THE WORDS WITH BLOCKS.AND
THEN ON THURSDAY, WE WOULD SPEND THREE HOURS OF
INTERPRETIVE DANCE TO GET THE WORDS IN.RIGHT?AND
WHAT HAPPENED EVERY SINGLE FRIDAY?I SPENT -- I FAILED
THAT TEST.BUT ONE FRIDAY I WOKE UP, CAME DOWNSTAIRS,
AND THERE WAS NO LAST MINUTE DRILLS, NO LAST MINUTE
FLASH CARDS.I SAID TO MY MOM, "WHAT'S UP?"SHE SAID,
"WE'RE NOT DOING THE SPELLING TEST TODAY.WE'RE
DITCHING SCHOOL AND GOING TO THE ZOO," SHE SAID.
I WAS ASKED IN 2000 BY THE USA TODAY WHEN "LEARNING
OUTSIDE THE LINES," MY FIRST BOOK, CAME OUT -- THEY DID
ABIG PROFILE.THE REPORTER ASKED ME, "JONATHAN, GIVE
ME AN INSPIRING MESSAGE ABOUT HOW YOU GOT TO BROWN
UNIVERSITY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE."AND I SAID, "DITCH
SCHOOL."OKAY?BECAUSE WHAT ME AND MY MOM DID EVERY
FRIDAY FROM -- HENCEFORTH, EVERY FRIDAY, WAS WE SPENT
TIME GETTING GOOD AT SOMETHING.THAT'S WHAT WE SPENT
TIME AT.WE SPENT TIME DEVELOPING STRENGTH.THAT'S
WHAT MY MOTHER CALLED IT.SHE LITERALLY CALLED IT THE
"GET GOOD AT SOMETHING DAY."WE SPENT TIME BEING
INTERESTED IN THE WORLD.WE SPENT TIME FIGURING OUT
WHERE MY CAPACITIES WERE, TALKING ABOUT MY CAPACITIES,
TALKING ABOUT HOW TO MAKE MY WAY IN THE WORLD WITH MY
CAPACITIES.NOT MY DEFICITS, BUT MY ASSETS.AND THAT
WAS A RADICAL SHIFT IN MY LIFE.WE SPEND MOST OUR TIME
TRYING FIX PEOPLE LIKE ME, AND WE'RE DOING THEM A
SIGNIFICANT DISSERVICE.NOT ONLY DOES IT CULTIVATE AN
IDENTITY OF BEING BROKEN, OF -- OF BEING DEFECTIVE, BUT
IT'S A DISSERVICE PRAGMATICALLY FOR LAUNCHING A
SUCCESSFUL ADULT LIFE.AND THIS IS AN ISSUE THAT'S
RELEVANT FOR FOLKS LIKE ME CERTAINLY, BUT IT IS FRANKLY
RELEVANT FOR ALL FOLKS.AS WE AS AN INSTITUTION THINK
ABOUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LAUNCH PEOPLE INTO THEIR
ADULT LIFE, THERE IS RESEARCH PILING UP EVERY DAY THAT
SHOWS THAT SCHOOL, INCLUDING HIGHER EDUCATION, IS TRYING
TO CREATE GENERALISTS FOR A WORLD OF -- GUESS WHAT? --
SPECIALISTS.MORE THAN EVER THE WORLD REWARDS
SPECIALIST KNOWLEDGE.HOWARD GARDNER FROM HARVARD SAID
IT BEST.HE SAID, "SCHOOL IS THE ONLY PLACE WHERE WE
ASK HUMAN BEINGS TO BE GOOD AT ALL THINGS."YOU GET OUT
OF SCHOOL, YOU AIN'T GOOD AT ALL THINGS.IF YOU'RE
ANYTHING LIKE ME, YOU ARE LUCKY IF YOU'RE GOOD AT ONE OR
TWO THINGS.RIGHT?THE WORLD IS REWARDING SPECIALIST
KNOWLEDGE MORE THAN EVER.
THERE'S A SOFTWARE DESIGN COMPANY IN FINLAND.RIGHT?
HIRES 200 COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS A YEAR.BUT WHAT MAKES
THIS SOFTWARE DESIGN COMPANY UNIQUE IS THE COMPUTER
PROGRAMMERS IT HIRES ARE ALL COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS WITH
AUTISM OR ASPERGER'S.EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM.THIS
IS NOT A CHARITY, THIS IS A BUSINESS.THEY THINK THAT
SPECIALIST BRAIN IS BETTER AT THE JOB.THEY DON'T CARE
WHAT THE BRAIN CAN'T DO.THEY ONLY CARE ABOUT WHAT THE
BRAIN CAN DO.AND THAT MAKES SENSE, RIGHT?IT'S OFTEN
A BRAIN THAT'S GOOD AT SYSTEMS THINKING, IT'S A BRAIN
THAT'S GOOD WITH NUMBERS, AND LET'S BE HONEST, IT'S A
MORE PRODUCTIVE EMPLOYEE.THEY DON'T WASTE A LOT OF
TIME WITH CHITCHAT, YOU KNOW?LIKE GET TO WORK AND DO
SOME PROGRAMMING.YOU KNOW?THE WORLD IS REWARDING
THAT SPECIALIST KNOWLEDGE MORE THAN EVER.
SO WE NEED TO CHALLENGE THAT DEFICIT ORIENTATION.WE
NEED TO CHALLENGE IT IN THE LIVES OF STUDENTS WITH
LABELS, BUT WE NEED TO CHALLENGE HOW WE'RE FORCING
EVERYONE TO BE THE SAME IN OUR EDUCATIONAL MODELS WITH
THIS IDEAL NOTION OF A GENERALIST APPROACH TO BEING
SUCCESSFUL.WHERE THE MOST SUCCESSFUL HUMAN BEINGS
AREN'T GOOD AT EVERYTHING, THEY'RE GOOD AT ONE OR TWO
THINGS.AND THEY SCALE THOSE STRENGTHS.
HOW DO THEY MITIGATE THOSE WEAKNESSES?WELL, THEY
MITIGATE THOSE WEAKNESSES THE WAY WE ALL DO WITH TEAMS,
TECHNOLOGY AND SUPPORT.RIGHT?THAT'S THE FOUNDATION
OF A MEANINGFUL LIFE.AND THAT'S TRUE FOR ME.I WRITE
BOOKS FOR A LIVING.I SPELL AT A THIRD GRADE LEVEL.
HOW DO I DO THAT?WELL, GUESS WHAT?I MARRIED MY SPELL
CHECKER.IT'S CALLED STRATEGIC MATING, AND IF YOU
HAVEN'T TRIED IT, YOU SHOULD TRY IT.WE ALL DO THAT,
RIGHT?WE BUILD SUPPORTIVE NETWORKS, WE USE TECHNOLOGY,
AND WE BUILD A LIFE NOT ABOUT WHAT'S WRONG WITH US, WE
BUILD A LIFE AROUND WHAT'S RIGHT WITH US.AND THAT'S
THE LAST COMPONENT OF MY JOURNEY, OF AN INCLUSIVE
LEARNING ENVIRONMENT.THAT'S NOT DEMANDING THAT FOLKS
ARE GOOD AT EVERYTHING IN THE SAME WAY, BUT THAT'S
NURTURING THESE DIFFERENT POCKETS OF DIVERSITY, SEEING
THEIR VALUE, SCALING THOSE STRENGTHS, DEVELOPING THOSE
TALENTS, AND SUPPORTING AND MITIGATING WEAKNESS WITH
ACCOMMODATIONS, TECHNOLOGY AND HELP.
SO THAT'S MY JOURNEY.I'M NOT ONE OF THOSE STATISTICS.
AND THEY'RE DAUNTING STATISTICS.I'M NOT FLIPPING
BURGERS, I'M NOT INCARCERATED.BECAUSE PEOPLE REDEFINED
DISABILITY IN MY LIFE.AWAY FROM BEING IN BODIES TO
BEING IN THE INTERACTION BETWEEN BODIES AND
ENVIRONMENTS.I'M HERE TODAY BECAUSE I HAD AN
OPPORTUNITY TO BECOME AN AGENT IN MY LIFE.NOT A
PATIENT, BUT AN AGENT.MY MOTHER FOUGHT FOR ME, TAUGHT
ME IT WAS AN INJUSTICE.AND THE GIFTED EDUCATORS IN MY
LIFE,PROFESSOR -- FATHER YOUNG HELD ME TO HIGH
EXPECTATIONS, BUT GAVE ME DIFFERENT WAYS TO REACH THAT.
AND I HAD THE CHANCE TO GET GOOD AT SOMETHING.NOT
EVERYTHING.I AIN'T GOOD AT EVERYTHING BY ANY MEANS.
I'M BAD AT MOST THINGS.BUT I GOT GOOD AT A FEW THINGS,
AND I BUILT MY LIFE, BUILT MY EDUCATION AROUND THAT.SO
WHY DOES IT MATTER THAT WE BUILD INCLUSIVE LEARNING
ENVIRONMENTS?YOU KNOW, THAT'S THE QUESTION I WANT TO
TALK ABOUT BRIEFLY BEFORE WE OPEN IT UP FOR
CONVERSATION.BECAUSE IT MATTERS ON TWO DIFFERENT
FRONTS.IT MATTERS PHILOSOPHICALLY FROM A MORAL
PERSPECTIVE, AND IT MATTERS FROM A PRAGMATIC
PERSPECTIVE.
FROM A PHILOSOPHICAL PERSPECTIVE, IT MATTERS DEEPLY
BECAUSE WE HAVE BUILT LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS, OUR
CULTURE, OUR COMMUNITIES, AROUND THE MYTH OF NORMAL AND
AVERAGE.AND THAT MYTH OF NORMAL AND AVERAGE HAS
BOMBARDED ALL PEOPLE WITH A PERVASIVE IMPERATIVE THAT TO
BE OKAY AS A HUMAN BEING, TO BE ACCEPTABLE AS A HUMAN,
YOU HAVE TO STRIVE FOR THIS MYTHICAL NORM, THIS MYTHICAL
AVERAGE.WHICH BY DEFINITION DOES NOT EXIST.WE DIDN'T
HAVE THE WORD NORMAL IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE UNTIL THE
1860S.NORMAL IS A PRODUCT LINGUISTICALLY OF THE
INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION, OF STANDARDIZING PRODUCTION, OF
MOVING IN A PLACE THAT'S FORCING PEOPLE TO FIT THAT
STANDARDIZED MOLD.NORMAL IS SOMETHING THAT WE KNOW IS
A STATISTICAL CONCEPT, NOT A FACT IN THE WORLD.
THINK ABOUT THE PEOPLE YOU KNOW.IF YOU'RE ANYTHING
LIKE ME, THE ONLY NORMAL PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE YOU DON'T
KNOW VERY WELL, RIGHT?BECAUSE HUMAN BEINGS BY
DEFINITION ARE DIFFERENT.WE BY DEFINITION DIFFER IN SO
MANY BEAUTIFUL WAYS, AND CHALLENGING THAT MYTH OF NORMAL
IS A PHILOSOPHICAL IMPERATIVE BECAUSE WE ARE DOUBLING
DOWN ON NORMAL.WE HAVE A MEDICAL COMMUNITY THAT'S
FOUND A SICKNESS FOR EVERY SINGLE HUMAN DIFFERENCE.
RIGHT?DSM KEEPS GROWING EVERY SINGLE YEAR WITH NEW
WAYS TO BE DEFECTIVE, WITH NEW WAYS TO BE LESSENED.WE
HAVE TO CHALLENGE THAT.AND CHALLENGING THAT MYTH OF
NORMAL IS LIBERATING.IT FREES SOMEBODY.IT CAN MAKE
THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE IN SOMEBODY'S LIFE, WHETHER
THEY'RE 25 OR WHETHER THEY'RE EIGHT YEARS OLD.TELL YOU
A STORY ABOUT THAT, ABOUT HOW CHALLENGING THAT IDEA OF
NORMAL CAN CHANGE A LIFE.
WHEN I WAS AT BROWN UNIVERSITY, I STARTED SOMETHING AS A
SIDE PROJECT CALLED PROJECT EYE TO EYE.AND PROJECT EYE
TO EYE REALLY HAD A PRETTY SIMPLE MISSION.ITS MISSION
WAS TO BRING INTO THE LIVES OF YOUNG FOLKS WITH
COGNITIVE AND PHYSICAL DIFFERENCES ROLE MODELS, MENTORS,
TO GIVE THEM HOPE FOR THEIR FUTURE.AND WHEN WE STARTED
PROJECT EYE TO EYE, THERE WAS ONLY FIVE OF US.FIVE
BROWN STUDENTS, FIVE THIRD GRADERS IN A ROOM TALKING
ABOUT BEING DIFFERENT.AND I'LL NEVER FORGET, IN THIS
BIG CONVERSATION ABOUT BEING DIFFERENT, ONE PAIR --
BROWN STUDENT, THIRD GRADER -- DIDN'T WANT TO SHARE, AND
THEY WENT OVER TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROOM AND TALKED
PRIVATELY.THE BROWN STUDENT WHO DIDN'T WANT TO SHARE
HIS EXPERIENCE, HIS NAME WAS KENT ROBERTS.AND KENT
ROBERTS WAS AND STILL IS -- AND I MEAN THIS AS A
COMPLIMENT -- A COMPLETE FREAK SHOW.OKAY?TOTAL FREAK
SHOW.RIGHT?GUY HAD A BIG BEARD DOWN TO HIS WAIST,
LONG HAIR DOWN TO HIS WAIST.HE TOTALLY LOOKED LIKE
JESUS.YOU KNOW?TOTALLY LOOKED LIKE JESUS.HE HAD
EVERY LABEL UNDER THE BOOK, ADD, ASPERGER'S, EVERYTHING.
AND HE DIDN'T WANT TO SHARE HIS EXPERIENCES WITH THE
GROUP.SO HE WENT OVER, AND HE WAS JOINED BY THIRD
GRADER NAMED PHILIP.AND PHILIP WAS A HURTING KID.
PHILIP, IN SPECIAL ED, LABELED ADD, LEARNING DISABLED,
ASPERGER'S AS WELL.HE WAS SO ANXIOUS ABOUT SCHOOL WHEN
I MET HIM THAT PHILIP HAD AN ANXIETY TIC WHERE HE RUBBED
HIS LEFT EYEBROW RAW.SO WHEN I MET PHILIP, HE -- HE
HAD NO LEFT EYEBROW.THAT'S HOW TERRIFIED OF SCHOOL HE
WAS.SO THEY WERE QUITE A SIGHT TO SEE.RIGHT?YOU'VE
GOT HURTING LITTLE PHILIP, NINE YEARS OLD, TERRIFIED OF
SCHOOL.AND THEN YOU'VE GOT FREAK SHOW KENT ROBERTS,
RIGHT, TOTALLY LOOKING LIKE JESUS.YOU KNOW.AND THEY
WENT OVER TO TALK AMONGST THEMSELVES, AND -- AND THAT
WAS COOL.AND THE BIG GROUP DISBANDED, AND I WENT AND
JOINED THEIR CONVERSATION.AND I'LL NEVER FORGET WHEN I
WENT TO GO JOIN THEIR CONVERSATION I HEARD KENT WHEN I
WALKED OVER SCREAMING AT PHILIP AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS.
TOP OF HIS LUNGS.AND REMEMBER PHILIP IS NINE YEARS
OLD.OKAY?KENT ROBERTS IS SCREAMING, "PHILIP, IF YOU
LEARN ONE THING IN PROJECT EYE TO EYE, YOU HAVE TO LEARN
THAT NORMAL PEOPLE SUCK, PHILIP.THEY SUCK, RIGHT?"
THAT -- THAT'S NOT WHAT JESUS SAYS, MAN.I MEAN COME ON
NOW, I AM IN A PUBLIC ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, I THINK THE
COPS ARE COMING NEXT, YOU KNOW?I WANTED TO DO PROJECT
EYE TO EYE AS MY PROFESSION UPON GRADUATION, AND THERE
IS ABSOLUTELY NO FEDERAL FUNDING FOR AN ORGANIZATION
WHOSE MISSION IS TO CURSE AT CHILDREN.OKAY?THERE'S
NO MONEY FOR THAT.SO I AM DEEPLY DISTURBED BY WHAT
KENT ROBERTS HAD TO SAY, AND I'M UPSET PROFOUNDLY.SO I
GO HOME THAT NIGHT, AND I CALL HIM ON THE PHONE AND I
YELL AT HIM."WHY DID YOU SAY THAT?HOW COULD YOU SAY
THAT?WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?"FOR ABOUT TEN MINUTES.
KENT ROBERTS DIDN'T SAY A WORD UNTIL THE VERY END OF THE
CALL.ALL HE SAID WAS, "IT'S TRUE" AND HUNG UP THE
PHONE.ALL RIGHT?THAT'S IT.SO I'M THINKING -- I'M
THINKING MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, WATER UNDER THE
BRIDGE, RIGHT?RIGHT UNDER THE RUG.NO PRINCIPAL WAS
PRESENT.NOBODY HEARD IT.FORGET ABOUT IT.WRONG.
NEXT MORNING, NINE IN THE MORNING, I GET A CALL FROM
PRINCIPAL MARY BENNETT, THE PRINCIPAL OF THE FOX POINT
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, AND SHE RESPECTFULLY SUMMONS ME TO
HER OFFICE TO DISCUSS WHAT TRANSPIRED THE DAY BEFORE AT
PROJECT EYE TO EYE.
SO I DRIVE TO -- TO HER OFFICE, AND I'M THINKING OF ALL
THE WAYS I CAN APOLOGIZE FOR SCARRING THIS THIRD GRADER.
AND TO CONFIRM MY FEARS, WHEN I GET TO THE OFFICE, NOT
ONLY IS IT PRINCIPAL MARY BRENNAN, BUT IT'S ALSO
PHILIP'S GRANDMOTHER.BECAUSE PHILIP LIVES FULL-TIME
WITH GRANDMA.AND IF I'VE LEARNED ONE THING IN MY BRIEF
LIFE, IT IS DO NOT MESS WITH GRANDMA.RIGHT?DON'T --
DON'T DO IT.DON'T DO IT.SO BEFORE I EVEN SIT DOWN,
PHILIP'S GRANDMOTHER, SHE STANDS UP AND SHE POINTS AT ME
AND SHE SAYS, "WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY GRANDSON?"I SAID,
"NOTHING.IT WAS THAT KENT GUY, YOU KNOW."RIGHT UNDER
BUS, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?LIKE, IT WAS --
IT WAS KENT ROBERTS, YOU KNOW.
AND SHE HAD TEARS IN HER EYES.AND SHE SAID, "JONATHAN,
FOR THREE YEARS MY GRANDSON, FROM HOME TO SCHOOL, HAS
BEEN IN TEARS BEGGING ME TO TURN AROUND AND GO BACK.
FOR THREE YEARS, MY GRANDSON'S HID UNDER HIS BED BEFORE
SCHOOL AND BEGGED ME NOT TO MAKE HIM GO.BUT TODAY, DAY
AFTER PROJECT EYE TO EYE, MY GRANDSON WAS UP EARLY,
WAITING IN THE CAR, READY TO GO TO SCHOOL.WHAT DID YOU
DO TO MY GRANDSON?"I LOOKED AT HER AND I SAID, "WELL,
IT WAS MY GOOD FRIEND, KENT ROBERTS."RIGHT?AND IT
WASN'T ME.IT WAS KENT.FOR THE FIRST TIME IN PHILIP'S
LIFE, SOMEBODY SAID THE MYTH OF NORMAL IS WHAT'S BROKEN.
AND THE IDENTITY THAT IF YOU DON'T FIT IT THAT YOU'RE
LESS THAN, THAT'S WHAT'S BROKEN.AND WE NEED TO REFRAME
WHAT WE PROBLEMATIZE, NOT BODIES, NOT DIFFERENCE, BUT
THIS PERVASIVE IMPERATIVE TO BE NORMAL.AND WE NEED TO
REFRAME IT FOR PHILOSOPHICAL REASONS BECAUSE IT'S A
VIOLATION OF THE FUNDAMENTAL COMMITMENT TO BE INCLUSIVE
OF OTHER HUMAN BEINGS.
BUT ULTIMATELY, WE NEED TO REPLACE IT FOR PRAGMATIC
REASONS.BECAUSE THE REALITY IS ALL PROGRESS, ALL
EVOLUTION IS DRIVEN BY DEVIATIONS FROM THE NORMS.IT
WAS SOME ADD MONKEY THAT CLIMBED DOWN FROM THE TREES,
YOU KNOW, AND STARTED WALKING IN THE SAVANNA.ALL
EVOLUTION AND PROGRESS IS DRIVEN BY MUTATIONS AND
DEVIATIONS.AND IF WE LOSE THAT, IF WE ERADICATE THAT,
WE HAVE LOST OUR STRENGTH AS A COMMUNITY, AS A SOCIETY.
WE NEED TO EMBRACE THAT BECAUSE IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO
DO.BUT WE NEED TO EMBRACE IT BECAUSE IN AN AGE IN
WHICH WE NEED MORE CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION TO SOLVE
PRESSING PROBLEMS, WE NEED MORE OF THOSE KIDS IN THE
HALLWAY NOT IN THE HALLWAY.WE NEED MORE OF THOSE KIDS
HIDING IN THE BATHROOM TO BE CONTRIBUTING BECAUSE
THEY'RE THE NEXT GENERATION OF CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVERS
AND INNOVATORS.AND THEY ARE THE NEXT GENERATION NOT
DESPITE THEIR DIFFERENCES, BUT BECAUSE OF THEIR
DIFFERENCES.THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH FOR LISTENING TO
ME TALK AND SHARE MY EXPERIENCES.I REALLY APPRECIATE
THAT.THANK YOU.
WE HAVE -- WE HAVE A FEW MINUTES FOR SOME DIALOGUE IN
THE GROUP.AND THEN I WILL MAKE MYSELF AVAILABLE AFTER
THE FACT TO TALK TO ANYONE AND EVERYONE AND WE'LL STAY
HERE AS LONG AS THERE IS SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO TALK.SO
LET'S DO MAYBE A FEW QUESTIONS IN THE GROUP HERE, AND
THEN WE'LL BRING IT TO THE SIDE FOR SOME CASUAL
CONVERSATION.I THINK WE'RE GOING TO RUN YOU A MIC IF
YOU HAVE A QUESTION SO EVERYONE IN THE ROOM CAN HEAR.
SO THE WONDERFUL FOLKS WHO HAVE HAD TO KEEP UP WITH MY
FAST TALKING DOING THE CAPTIONING CAN HEAR THE QUESTION
AS WELL.AND WE APPRECIATE THAT VERY MUCH.AND WE'LL
GO FROM THERE.THOUGHTS?COMMENTS?PLEASE.
audience:OKAY.SO I HAVE TO SAY ONE OF THE BEST -- I'M
ADD, AND ONE OF THE BEST WAYS I LEARN HAS ALWAYS BEEN TO
LISTEN TO AUDIOBOOKS WHILE PLAYING (UNCLEAR) GAMES.IN
LITERATURE CLASS I WAS TERRIFIED THAT THE TEACHER WOULD
FIND OUT AND I WOULD BETRAY MYSELF SOMEHOW.OTHER THING
IS THAT IN DEALING WITH BEING DIFFERENT AND THE IDEA OF --
WHAT THE?OKAY.SORRY -- BY THE CAPTIONS.ONE OF MY
STRATEGIES FOR DEALING WITH BEING DIFFERENT IN CERTAIN
WAYS IS THAT MY IMPRESSION IS THAT -- ESPECIALLY AS AN
ARTIST IS THAT IF I'M DIFFERENT IN ONE WAY I'M A FREAK,
BUT IF I'M DIFFERENT IN, LIKE, TEN WAYS I'M ECCENTRIC.
AND I'M SORT OF LIKE LOOK AT, LIKE, LADY GAGA OR -- WHO AM
I LIKE? -- OR RICHARD BRANSON, WHO WE DON'T LIKE.OR JUST
LIKE ALL THESE PEOPLE WHO ARE JUST, LIKE, COMPLETE FREAKS
OF NATURE.AND THEY ARE FAMOUS AND ADMIRED AND GET LOTS
OF MONEY.AND I'M LIKE OKAY, I HAVE AN INHERENT ADVANTAGE
HERE.THERE ARE ALREADY TEN THINGS ABOUT ME THAT ARE
TOTALLY FREAKISH AND I DON'T HAVE TO MAKE THEM UP.
ALTHOUGH I THINK RICHARD BRANSON ACTUALLY DOES HAVE ADD.
BUT SO I WAS WONDERING IF THAT -- DOES THAT ACTUALLY SOUND
LIKE A VIABLE STRATEGY TO YOU?BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT I'VE
BEEN FOLLOWING FOR A FEW YEARS NOW.
MOONEY:YEAH, IT'S A -- YOU KNOW, AND -- AND WE HAD A
CHANCE TO TALK BEFORE.SO THANKS FOR SHARING THAT.
THERE'S NO -- THERE'S NO QUESTION THAT THIS -- THIS SORT
OF LINE BETWEEN VALUABLE ECCENTRICITY AND -- AND, SORT OF,
PATHOLOGIZED DIFFERENCE IS A -- IS A SOCIALLY CONSTRUCTED
LINE.AND RUNNING WITH YOUR DIFFERENCES AS VALUABLE
ECCENTRICITY IS -- IS EXACTLY HOW YOU SHOULD LIVE, IT'S
EXACTLY THE CENTERPIECE OF HOW YOU SHOULD LIVE.AND THE
CHALLENGE FOR ALL OF US, BUT CERTAINLY THE CHALLENGE FOR
FOLKS LIKE MYSELF, IS HOW DO WE DO, SORT OF, NICHE
CREATION THAT ALLOWS THE TRAIT TO ACQUIRE VALUE OPPOSED TO
BE DAMAGING TO OUR LIFE.THAT'S THE -- THAT'S THE
CHALLENGE, AND THAT SHOULD BE ALL THE CONVERSATION THAT WE HAVE.
BECAUSE I'LL BE FRANK WITH YOU, MY DIFFERENCES HAVE
SIGNIFICANT PROS AND SIGNIFICANT CONS.AND IF I'M NOT
COGNIZANT OF THOSE, IF I'M NOT AWARE OF THEM, AND IF I'M
NOT STRATEGIZING TO HOW DO I CREATE AN ENVIRONMENTAL
CONTEXT THAT MITIGATES WEAKNESS AND -- AND -- AND GROWS
STRENGTH, THEN I'M NOT GOING TO LIVE A FULFILLED LIFE.
SO I THINK THAT'S THE CHALLENGE.AND IF YOU LOOK AT ALL
THOSE EXAMPLES OF WHO YOU TALKED ABOUT, WHETHER YOU CARE
FOR THEM -- THEIR MUSIC OR YOU CARE FOR THEIR --
THEIR -- THEIR BUSINESS VENTURES.THOSE FOLKS ARE FOLKS
WHO CREATED NICHES THAT WERE RIGHT FOR THEIR MIXTURE AND
PORTFOLIO OF STRENGTHS AND DEFICIT.AND THAT IS THE
CHALLENGE FOR ME.THAT'S THE -- THE -- THE CORE
CONVERSATION THAT -- THAT I WOULD INSPIRE THAT SERVICE
PROVIDERS, SUPPORT FOLKS HAVE WITH PEOPLE.RIGHT?
AND IT'S -- IT'S GROUNDED IN THAT IDEA THAT DISABILITY
LIES IN THE INTERACTION BETWEEN DIFFERENCE AND
ENVIRONMENT.AND AS WE CAN CHANGE ENVIRONMENT, WE
CAN -- WE CAN EMPOWER.THERE'S A LOT OF EXAMPLES OF
THAT.YOU KNOW, LOOK AT ADHD, GREAT -- GREAT EXAMPLE OF
THAT.IN ONE CONTEXT LIKE SCHOOL, IT'S A PROBLEM.I
MEAN, BE -- LET'S BE FRANK WITH YOU.LIKE IN -- IN THE
CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENT THAT IS PROBLEMATIC, BUT THEN YOU
GO TO WALL STREET AND THEY CALL IT MULTITASKING.YOU
KNOW?THERE'S A BROKERAGE FIRM ON WALL STREET THAT ONLY
HIRES PEOPLE WITH ADHD TRAITS, LITERALLY, BECAUSE IN
THAT TASK, IN THAT ENVIRONMENT, THAT BRAIN IS AN
ADVANTAGE.AND THEY ACCOMMODATE ALL THE DIFFERENT
WEAKNESSES THAT COME FROM IT BECAUSE THEY FOUND A NICHE
THAT IS THE RIGHT SORT OF CHEMISTRY OF ABILITY,
DIFFERENCE AND ENVIRONMENT.SO THAT'S MY -- THAT'S --
THAT'S MY -- AND -- AND I HOPE THAT FOR MY KIDS, I HOPE
THAT FOR MYSELF.THAT'S THE CONVERSATION THAT I WOULD
LIKE FOLKS TO HAVE.HOW DO WE CREATE NICHES THAT
MITIGATE/ACCOMMODATE WEAKNESS AND ARE RIGHT FOR THE
PORTFOLIO OF STRENGTH AND TALENT?AND HOW DO YOU LIVE A
LIFE AS A PROUD ECCENTRIC?
IT ALSO RAISES ANOTHER CHALLENGE, WHICH IS HOW DO WE
CREATE DISABILITY IDENTITY AND SOLIDARITY TRYING TO
MARCH OUT OF WHAT ARE BY DEFINITION DIAGNOSTIC
CATEGORIES THAT ARE GROUNDED IN THE SORT OF LANGUAGE
OF -- OF -- OF DEFICIT AND DISORDER.RIGHT?THAT --
THAT'S -- THAT'S A CHALLENGE.AND I DON'T -- I'M -- I
DON'T HAVE AN ANSWER TO THAT CHALLENGE TO BE HONEST WITH
YOU.BUT I THINK THAT'S THE FUTURE OF OUR WORK OF
HOW -- HOW DO WE HAVE A SENSE OF SOLIDARITY, MAYBE
ACQUIRED THROUGH THIS, SORT OF, DEFICIT LANGUAGE, BUT
CREATE A COMMUNITY OF DIFFERENCE.
AND I THINK THE MODEL FOR THAT IS THE NEURODIVERSITY
MOVEMENT.AND THE NEURODIVERSITY MOVEMENT IS REALLY A
REFRAMING OF THE ASPERGER'S/AUTISM EXPERIENCE, BUT HAS
THE POTENTIAL TO BE A BIGGER TENT THAT'S SIMILAR TO THE
GAY RIGHTS MOVEMENT FROM MY PERSPECTIVE.AND -- WHICH
I'M INSPIRED BY AND -- AND LOOK TO AS A MODEL FOR HOW WE
CREATE A CONVERSATION AND A POLITICAL CONSTITUENCY
AROUND -- AROUND PHYSICAL AND COGNITIVE DIFFERENCES.SO
JUST A CHALLENGE TO THE GROUP.SOMETHING TO THINK
ABOUT.I DON'T HAVE AN ANSWER TO THAT, BUT IT'S
IMPORTANT TO -- TO HANG OUT WITH IT.SO I APPRECIATE
THAT.AND IT'S A MODEL FOR ME.LANGUAGE FOR ME TO
THINK ABOUT IN MY LIFE AND MY CHILDREN'S LIFE.SIR, IN
THE BACK, PLEASE.
audience:THANKS.GENERALIZATIONS ARE HORRIBLE.SO WITH
THAT CAVEAT.IF SOMEONE IS TRYING TO MOVE FROM PATIENT TO
AGENT, GENERALLY SPEAKING, MARIJUANA AND ALCOHOL HELPFUL,
NOT HELPFUL?HOW TO APPROACH THAT?

MOONEY:YEAH, AND YOUR NAME?

audience:DAN.

MOONEY:DAN.SO DAN, LET ME START WITH -- WITH JUST
PUTTING PERSONAL CARDS ON THE TABLE.I STRUGGLED WITH
EXPERIENCE -- SUBSTANCE ABUSE.MOSTLY ALCOHOL ABUSE.SO
THAT IS A LENS THAT I VIEW THIS THROUGH.UNPACKING THE
ROOT OF THAT WAS, YOU KNOW, IMPORTANT FOR ME.AND IN
UNPACKING THAT, INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, A ROOT OF THE
BEHAVIOR WAS AN ATTEMPT TO ACQUIRE SOME CONTROL AND AGENCY
IN CONTEXT THAT I FELT OUT OF CONTROL IN.
MISGUIDED ATTEMPT, RIGHT?WITH SOME SIGNIFICANT
CONSEQUENCES IN MY LIFE.ARRESTED FOR DUI,
RELATIONSHIPS DAMAGED, YOU KNOW, THOSE STORIES.BUT A
ROOT OF IT WAS STRUGGLING WITH THAT IDENTITY OF -- OF
PATIENT VERSUS AGENT AND TRYING TO FIND A WAY TO -- TO
HAVE SOME CONTROL.

ANOTHER COMPONENT OF THAT WAS, AS YOU HEAR IN A LOT OF
THESE STORIES IN GENERAL, BUT I THINK PARTICULARLY
RELEVANT TO THIS CONVERSATION OF -- OF -- OF -- OF
EMPOWERMENT AND AGENCY IS THE BEHAVIOR WAS ROOTED IN --
IN A -- IN A -- IN A -- IN PEER ACCEPTANCE AND
AFFIRMATION.SO YOU'RE THE CRAZY KID, RIGHT?ALL --
ALL DAY LONG AT SCHOOL, YOUR WHOLE LIFE AT SCHOOL,
YOU'RE THE SPAZ, YOU'RE A FREAK, THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE
CALLED.WELL, YOU GET WITH A CREW THAT'S DRINKING, THE
SAME BEHAVIOR THAT WAS GETTING YOU TEASED NOW GETS YOU
CELEBRATED, RIGHT?BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, YOU'RE OUT
PARTYING, AND THE CRAZIER STUFF YOU DO, THE COOLER YOU
ARE IN THAT CREW, RIGHT?SO YOU GET THAT FEEDBACK LOOP
OF A PEER AFFIRMATION THAT ALLOWED, IN A VERY DANGEROUS
WAY, THE SAME TRAIT THAT WAS A NEGATIVE TO BECOME A
POSITIVE.AND NOW -- NOW WE'RE -- WE'RE -- WE'RE IN A
REALLY DIFFICULT, SORT OF, FEEDBACK LOOP DANCE HERE.
AND UNDERSTANDING THAT AND EXTRICATING THAT, ALL
MISGUIDED ATTEMPTS FOR AGENCY, WERE REALLY IMPORTANT TO ME.
SO ONE OF THE COMPONENTS THAT HELPED ME EXTRICATE MYSELF
FROM THAT SORT OF FEEDBACK LOOP OF -- OF, SORT OF, PEER
NORM BEHAVIOR AND ATTEMPTS FOR AGENCY WAS -- AND THIS IS
NO SURPRISE TO FOLKS WHO STUDY BEHAVIORAL CHANGE -- WAS
A NEW PEER GROUP.AND FOR ME IT WAS ESSENTIAL PART OF
MY JOURNEY, BECOMING ENGAGED IN A COMMUNITY LIKE THE
STUDENT UNION THAT SPONSORED TONIGHT IN PART IS TRYING
TO BUILD.THAT WAS ESSENTIAL -- YOU KNOW, THERE --
THERE IS AN ANALOGY IN THE DISABILITY COMMUNITY TO
THE -- TO THE GAY RIGHTS COMMUNITY WHERE WE SPEND A LOT
OF TIME IN THE CLOSET, YOU KNOW?NOT TALKING ABOUT, NOT
BEING HONEST ABOUT IT, DISENGAGED FROM OTHER FOLKS WITH
MY EXPERIENCE.
AND ENGAGING IN THAT COMMUNITY WAS CENTRAL.YOU KNOW,
FIRST DAY AT BROWN, TRANSFERRED THERE, HAD AN
ORIENTATION.SAT AROUND IN A CIRCLE AND EVERYONE HAD TO
SHARE AS AN ICEBREAKER WHERE THEY TRANSFERRED FROM AND
WHAT THEY DID THE SUMMER BEFORE.

AND FIRST KID SAYS, "I TRANSFERED FROM YALE, AND I
WORKED AT THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH."SAT DOWN.
I'M LIKE, I WAITED TABLES.YOU KNOW, LIKE -- LIKE,
LITERALLY.YOU KNOW, I DIDN'T LEARN TO READ UNTIL I WAS
12.I'M OUT OF HERE.RIGHT?I'M GOING TO GO AND --
AND -- AND I'LL GO GET HAMBURGERS.RIGHT?I CAN'T DEAL
WITH THIS.NEXT KID STANDS UP."OH, I TRANSFERED FROM
HARVARD, AND I'M ON A SHORT LIST FOR A NOBEL PRIZE."
YOU KNOW?AND -- AND -- AND I'M LIKE, I'M OUT OF HERE,
DONE.LIKE, I'M GOING TO -- I CAN'T EVEN -- I'M GOING
TO LEAVE SCHOOL.AND THEN A KID STANDS UP, AND HE HAD
PURPLE HAIR, HE HAD BICYCLE CHAINS AROUND HIS WRISTS
LIKE BRACELETS.AND HE SAID, "MY NAME IS DAVID COLE.
AND I TRANSFERED FROM LANDMARK COLLEGE, WHICH IS A
TWO-YEAR COLLEGE FOR FOLKS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES.
AND I WORKED CONSTRUCTION LAST SUMMER."I'M LIKE,
THAT'S MY BOY RIGHT THERE, MAN.AND, YOU KNOW, HE'S THE
FIRST PERSON WHO I EVER -- FIRST PERSON WITH A, SORT OF,
COGNITIVE DIFFERENCE THAT I HAD A, SORT OF, RELATIONSHIP
WITH AROUND A SENSE OF COMMUNITY AND SOLIDARITY AND NOT
BEING ALONE IN THIS EXPERIENCE.AND THAT HELPED ME DEAL
AND EXTRICATE MYSELF FROM THIS SORT OF FEEDBACK,
MISGUIDED ATTEMPT FOR AGENCY UTILIZING SUBSTANCES.
YEAH.APPRECIATE IT.
IN THE BACK PLEASE.YEAH.

audience:HEY.SO I'VE HAD A LEARNING DISABILITY EVER
SINCE FIRST GRADE, AND I'VE BEEN TOLD SINCE THIS TIME THAT
I SHOULDN'T DO SCANTRON, THAT I NEED EXTRA TIME ON TESTS,
AND I COULDN'T LEARN TO -- LEARN TO READ UNTIL SIXTH
GRADE.BUT ALL THIS TIME NO ONE HAS EVER EXPLAINED TO ME
EXACTLY WHAT MY LEARNING DISABILITY WAS OR HOW IT WORKED.
AND I WAS JUST WONDERING IF ANYONE EVER DID THAT FOR YOU,
AND IF YOU THOUGHT IT WAS HELPFUL.BECAUSE I THINK WE
ACTUALLY NEED MORE EDUCATION ON, LIKE, HOW LEARNING
DISABILITIES WORK IN OUR BRAIN.

MOONEY:YEP.YEAH.AND WHAT'S YOUR NAME?
audience:RACHEL.
MOONEY:RACHEL.I APPRECIATE YOU SHARING THAT, RACHEL,
IN A GROUP LIKE THIS.TAKES COURAGE.SOMETHING I
PROBABLY WOULDN'T HAVE DONE WHEN I WAS YOUR AGE.SO I --
THIS IS WHAT I THINK.I THINK -- I THINK IT'S VERY
IMPORTANT TO HAVE CLEAR, PRECISE, INFORMATIVE
DESCRIPTIONS.BECAUSE IT'S BETTER TO BE DYSLEXIC THAN
STUPID.ALL RIGHT?LIKE THAT'S -- THAT -- THAT'S --
THAT'S A -- THAT'S AN IMPROVEMENT, YOU KNOW?AND
BRAIN-BASED DESCRIPTIONS THAT ARE HOLISTIC AND
VALUE-NEUTRAL ARE VERY IMPORTANT.SO WHEN I WAS
DIAGNOSED, TEACHER NAMED MR. R, MR. ROSENBAUM, PULLED ME
ASIDE AND SAID, YOU KNOW, "LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT YOUR
BRAIN.LEFT HEMISPHERE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR READING.LET'S
LOOK AT THE NEUROLOGY OF IT.YOUR LEFT HEMISPHERE IS
SMALLER.THAT'S A FACT.LET'S NOT DE -- DEBATE IT.I'M
NOT GOING TO SAY THAT'S GOOD OR BAD, IT'S A FACT.AND
WHAT THAT MEANS IS THAT YOUR STRUGGLES WITH READING ARE
GROUNDED IN SOMETHING OTHER THAN BEING LAZY OR DUMB.
THAT'S WHAT THAT MEANS."AND IT WAS VERY CLEAR, VERY
CONCRETE; IT WAS A DESCRIPTION, NOT A JUDGMENT.BUT TOO
OFTEN WE'RE -- WE'RE JUDGING AND NOT DESCRIBING.AND
WE'RE ACTUALLY DOING A LOT OF THE JUDGING WITHOUT, AS YOU
RIGHTFULLY POINTED OUT, DOING A LOT OF THE GOOD
DESCRIBING.RIGHT?WE'RE KIND OF SAYING OH, IT'S A
DEFICIT OF PROCESSING.WHAT -- WHAT -- WHAT DOES THAT
MEAN, RIGHT?YOU KNOW.LIKE, LET'S -- LET'S DRILL THIS
CONVERSATION DOWN TO PARTS OF THE BRAIN.LET'S DRILL IT
DOWN TO WHERE THE BRAIN IS -- IS -- ISN'T -- ISN'T
PERFORMING AND WHERE IT IS.THAT'S THE OTHER SIDE OF THE
EQUATION TOO THOUGH.SO THE OTHER THING THE GUY SAID WAS,
"OKAY, YOU KNOW, THE LEFT HEMISPHERE IS SMALLER, BUT THE
RIGHT HEMISPHERE IS OFTEN BIGGER, AND RIGHT HEMISPHERE IS
RESPONSIBLE FOR HOLISTIC THOUGHT, INTUITIVE THOUGHT,
INSIGHT."AND THERE'S MORE RESEARCH EVERY DAY ABOUT THE
TALENTS THAT FOLKS WITH CERTAIN LEARNING DISABILITIES HAVE
THAT ARE INTRINSICALLY LINKED TO THEIR DEFICITS.NOT IN A
CORRELATION BUT CAUSATION WAY.AND WE NEED TO TELL THAT
STORY.
SO I THINK THERE IS A -- AN URGENT NEED FOR BETTER
DESCRIPTIVE LANGUAGE, AND A -- AND THE DISCIPLINE OF
NEUROSCIENCE I THINK POINTS THAT WAY.BECAUSE UNLIKE
THE SORT OF -- SORT OF EDIFICE OF THE DSM, WHICH IS
GROUNDED IN A, SORT OF, DEFICIT ORIENTATION, I FEEL LIKE
THE -- THE -- THE DISCIPLINE OF NEUROSCIENCE IS -- IS
GROUNDED IN A DESCRIPTIVE SPACE.AND WE'RE TRYING TO
UNDERSTAND THE FUNCTIONING OF THIS VERY COMPLEX ENTITY,
AND WE CAN NAME PLACES IN WHICH THE FUNCTIONING IS -- IS
OPTIMAL AND PLACES IN WHICH IT ISN'T.AND THAT'S NOT
GOOD NOR BAD, THAT JUST IS.

AND THAT'S WHERE I THINK AND HOPE THIS GOES.APPRECIATE
THE COMMENT.SIR, UP FRONT.

audience:THANKS.I'M BLOWN AWAY BY HOW WELL YOU EXPRESS
YOURSELF, AND I'M WONDERING -- I ASSUME, BUT I -- BUT I
DON'T WANT TO ASSUME.WAS THAT PART OF YOUR -- YOUR
DISABILITY?WERE YOU ALWAYS ABLE TO EXPRESS YOURSELF THIS
CLEARLY AND POWERFULLY OR NOT?THAT'S ONE -- PART OF THE
QUESTION.

MOONEY:YEAH.WHY DON'T YOU ASK ME BOTH AND I'LL
-- I'LL TACKLE THEM BOTH AT THE SAME TIME.

AUDIENCE: OKAY.AND IF NOT THEN -- OR EVEN IF YOU WERE
ALWAYS ABLE TO EXPRESS YOURSELF WELL -- CLEARLY, YOU'VE
CULTIVATED AN EXTRAORDINARY VOCABULARY AND ABILITY TO CRAFT
HOW YOU SPEAK.AND THAT, I DON'T THINK THAT CAN COME
NATURALLY.I DON'T KNOW.I'M CURIOUS AS AN EDUCATOR.SO
EITHER WAY, AS AN EDUCATOR, BECAUSE IF MY STUDENTS -- AS A
MARGINALLY EMPLOYED EDUCATOR IN THE EUGENE SCHOOL SYSTEM --
BUT IF THEY COULD EXPRESS THEMSELVES CLEARLY THAT CAN HELP.
THAT CAN GO SO FAR IN A SYSTEM THAT'S FORTUNATELY -- IS MUCH
MORE COMPASSIONATE THAN -- THAN THE WORST PARTS THAT YOU
DESCRIBE.SO -- AND I ALWAYS WANT TO HELP KIDS TO BE ABLE TO
DO THAT.SO IF -- IF IN ANY WAY THAT WAS A DEFICIT, I'M
CURIOUS AS TO HOW YOU CULTIVATED SUCH A STRONG VOCABULARY AND
ABILITY TO EXPRESS YOURSELF.

MOONEY:AND YOUR NAME?

audience:LAWRENCE.

MOONEY:LAWRENCE.I COMMEND YOU FOR THE -- FOR THE WORK
THAT YOU'RE DOING, LAWRENCE.YOU KNOW.THAT'S THE --
THAT'S THE FRONT LINES OF BEING IN -- IN -- IN PUBLIC
SCHOOL SETTINGS AND TRYING TO REIMAGINE WHAT LEARNING IS
IN AN AGE OF VERY NARROW IMAGINATION OF WHAT LEARNING IS.
SO I COMMEND YOU FOR THAT.LET ME TALK A LITTLE BIT
ABOUT -- ABOUT -- ABOUT MY EXPERIENCES AND -- AND VERBAL
SKILLS IN GENERAL.

SPEECH THERAPIST GUY, MEANING THIRD GRADE, GET -- GET
PULLED OUT BY THOSE FOLKS TO GO.AND IT EXACERBATED THE
CHALLENGES IN SOME WAYS.AND SO I HAD -- THIS WAS A
TRAIT THAT EMERGED.IT WAS A TRAIT THAT EMERGED.SO
LET ME TELL YOU HOW IT EMERGED.AND I THINK THAT THIS
IS IMPERATIVE IN -- IN OUR SCHOOLS TO SUPPORT THIS
TRAIT.BECAUSE AS YOU MENTIONED, THERE'S A HIGH
CORRELATION WITH SUCCESSFUL LIFE OUTCOMES AND VERBAL
SKILLS.YOU LOOK AT THE GALLUP POLL, GALLUP SURVEY
OF -- OF WHAT LEADS TO SUCCESSFUL EMPLOYEES, 8 MILLION
PEOPLE SURVEYED, ONE OF THE SINGLE STRONGEST FINDING WAS
VERBAL CAPACITY AND THE ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE CLEARLY.

BUT AT THE SAME TIME ANOTHER RESEARCH STUDY, HARVARD
GRADUATE SCHOOL OF EDUCATION, THE NUMBER ONE WORD SAID,
NUMBER ONE WORD SAID TO KINDERGARTEN STUDENTS IN THIS
COUNTRY, NUMBER ONE WORD IS GUESS WHAT?SHH.A TRAIT
THAT WILL LEAD TO LIFE SUCCESS IS ACTIVELY DISCOURAGED
ON A DAILY BASIS, AN HOURLY BASIS, AN EVERY FIVE MINUTES
BASIS.BE QUIET.ONE OF THE NUMBER ONE SAID THINGS --
THINGS SAID TO YOUNG FOLKS.SO THEN WE WONDER WHY THEY
DON'T TALK IN EIGHTH GRADE.RIGHT?

AND SO THAT'S ESSENTIAL, RIGHT, THAT WE -- WE THINK
ABOUT WHAT SORT OF VALUES WE PLACE ON THIS.I GREW UP
IN A FAMILY OF DEBATERS AND ARGUERS AND
POUND-ON-THE-DINNER-TABLE PEOPLE, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?
LIKE, IRISH, FATHER WAS AN ATTORNEY.YOU MADE YOUR CASE
AT DINNER, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?LIKE, YOU BROUGHT YOUR
FIVE-POINT BRIEF, YOU KNOW, WITH SOME REFERENCES TO
LEGAL PRECEDENT, YOU KNOW, IF YOU WANTED TO GO PLAY BALL
IN THE AFTERNOON.YOU KNOW, LIKE, IT -- THAT'S -- SO I
GREW UP IN A CULTURE THAT NURTURED THAT, CULTIVATED
THAT.IN MY HOUSE.NOT IN SCHOOL.I GREW UP IN A
CULTURE AT SCHOOL THAT GOT ME IN TROUBLE FOR IT.AND SO
I THINK WE GOT TO -- WE GOT TO DEAL WITH THAT.

BECAUSE YOU'RE EXACTLY RIGHT, MAN, THAT IS A ESSENTIAL,
ESSENTIAL SKILL TO BE SUCCESSFULLY FULFILLED AS A HUMAN
BEING.THE OTHER COMPONENT FOR ME AND WHAT YOU SEE
TONIGHT IS WHAT I CALL THE -- NOT I CALL -- BUT
RESEARCHERS CALL THE 10,000 HOUR RULE.TEN THOUSAND
HOUR RULE.YOU WANT TO GET GOOD AT ANYTHING, GUESS
WHAT?10,000 HOURS OF DELIBERATE PRACTICE.RIGHT?NOT
WORKSHEET PRACTICE.DO YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?NOT DRILL
AND KILL PRACTICE.BUT PRACTICE THAT HAS IMMEDIATE
FEEDBACK.AND AS YOU LOOK AT LEARNING THEORY, THE --
CLOSING THE FEEDBACK LOOP IS ESSENTIAL, RIGHT?RIGHT?
YOU -- YOU LEARN WITH STIMULUS RESPONSE.BUT
UNFORTUNATELY, THE PRACTICE THAT WE GIVE AT SCHOOL IS I
GO HOME AND I DO MY HOMEWORK, I TURN IT IN, A WEEK LATER
I GET THE FEEDBACK.FEEDBACK LOOP IS TOO ELONGATED.SO
FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, YOU KNOW, I'VE BEEN SPEAKING TO
FOLKS FOR 12 YEARS.NO BETTER FEEDBACK, YOU KNOW.IF
YOU SUCK, YOU KNOW IT.YOU KNOW?LIKE, GOT IT.YOU
KNOW WHAT I MEAN?AND SO WHEN I LOOK AT MY LIFE IN
DEVELOPING A TALENT, WHICH I'VE WORKED HARD TO DO,
10,000 HOURS OF DIRECTED PRACTICE WITH -- WITH A
TRUNCATED, IMMEDIATE FEEDBACK EXPERIENCE WAS ESSENTIAL
TO IT.

SO THAT'S SOMETHING THAT WE CAN -- WE CAN EXPORT AND
EXTRAPOLATE TO -- TO -- TO VERBAL CAPACITY, BUT ALSO TO
ANYTHING THAT FOLKS WANT TO GET GOOD AT.BUT AGAIN, TO
GO BACK TO A CORE PREMISE OF MY PRESENTATION TONIGHT, IF
YOU LOOK AT THE 10,000 HOURS AND HOW WE ALLOCATE THAT
FOR STRUGGLING LEARNERS, AT-RISK LEARNERS, WE ARE
ALLOCATING IT TO WHAT'S WRONG, NOT WHAT'S RIGHT.SO
JONATHAN MOONEY COULD HAVE STARTED GETTING HIS -- HIS
10,000 HOURS DOING THIS BACK IN THE DAY, GOING TO DEBATE
CAMP.RIGHT?BUT I DIDN'T GET TO GO TO DEBATE CAMP; I
WENT TO PHONICS CAMP INSTEAD.RIGHT?WHERE DID THE
HOURS GO?WHERE DID THE HOURS GO?

LOOK AT LOW INCOME SCHOOLS THAT ARE BEING IDENTIFIED AS
PROGRAM IMPROVEMENT SCHOOLS UNDER THE NO CHILD LEFT
BEHIND POLICY.THEY'RE CUTTING EVERYTHING BUT DIRECT
INSTRUCTION ON TWO SUBJECT MATTERS, READING AND MATH.
THAT'S IT.75 PERCENT OF INSTRUCTIONAL HOURS IN
AMERICAN SCHOOLS TODAY, 75 PERCENT ON AVERAGE, ARE SPENT
ON TWO SUBJECTS, READING AND MATH.AND EVERYTHING THAT
WERE THE REPOSITORY OF 10,000 TALENT DEVELOPMENT HOURS
IS GONE.THE ART CLASS IS GONE.THE ROBOTICS PROGRAM
IS GONE.THOSE ARE ALL GONE.SO THE VERBAL SKILLS HAVE
TO BE NURTURED BY CULTIVATING AN ACADEMIC ENVIRONMENT
THAT DOESN'T PENALIZE THEM, THAT CELEBRATES THEM, THAT
ALLOWS THEM TO -- TO GROW.AND FROM MY JOURNEY OF BEING
GOOD AT THIS THING, I'VE LEARNED THAT I NEED HOURS.AND
I NEED THOSE HOURS EARLY, I NEED THEM OFTEN.I NEED
DIRECT FEEDBACK.AND IT'S IMPERATIVE THAT WE, AS FOLKS
WHO CARE ABOUT SCHOOL AND YOUNG PEOPLE, THAT WE GET
THOSE SITES OF TALENT DEVELOPMENT BACK AND MAKE THAT A
BIG PART OF -- OF REIMAGINING WHAT EDUCATION CAN BE.

SO I APPRECIATE THAT.THANK YOU.WE -- WE'RE -- WE'RE
RUNNING-- WE'RE RUNNING -- WE'RE RUNNING LATE.SO
LET'S DO ONE MORE.AND WE'LL DO RIGHT UP FRONT.AND
THEN, AS I PROMISED TO YOU, I WILL NOT LEAVE HERE
TODAY -- TONIGHT WITHOUT SPEAKING TO ANYONE WHO WANTS TO
STAY.SO COME SAY HELLO. YOU'LL BE OUR LAST QUESTION OR
COMMENT THIS EVENING.

audience:HI.OKAY.I'M KATHY.

MOONEY:HEY, KATHY.HOW YOU DOING?

AUDIENCE:PRETTY GOOD.THAT'S MY KID GABRIEL.HE DOESN'T
WANT TO BE INTRODUCED, BUT THERE YOU HAVE IT.

MOONEY:NICE -- NICE TO MEET YOU, GABRIEL.

AUDIENCE:ANYWAY, GOING THROUGH THE PROCESS TO GET THE I --
IEP BY BEING PART OF PATIENT PROCESS.YOU KNOW, YOU HAVE TO
DO THAT TO ENTER THE DOOR, OKAY.BUT THEN YOU WANT TO -- TO
HAVE AN ENVIRONMENT THAT'S AN AGENT ENVIRONMENT, THAT, YOU
KNOW, GIVES KIDS A CHANCE TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES CREATIVELY IN
OTHER WAYS OR HAVE ALTERNATE ASSESSMENTS OR THINGS LIKE THAT.
AND, YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT THE BIGGEST STRUGGLE I'VE HAD --
I HAD TO ACTUALLY GO OUT AND GET, LIKE, A CHILD ADVOCATE
ATTORNEY BECAUSE I DIDN'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT IT.AND I
WANTED TO MAKE SURE THAT THERE WERE ACCOMMODATIONS THAT WERE
MEANINGFUL AND INTERESTING AND, YOU KNOW, REALLY, LIKE, SPOKE
TO WHAT WAS -- I WOULD LIKE TO SEE, LIKE, A COMMUNITY -- SO
I'M JUST -- MAYBE YOU HAVE IT ALREADY AND I JUST DIDN'T KNOW.
BUT SOMEPLACE WHERE PEOPLE COULD -- LIKE A DUMPING GROUND OR
A BLOG OF CREATIVE, INTERESTING ACCOMMODATIONS.

SO THAT, LIKE, NOT EVERYBODY -- I'M A SINGLE MOM, I
CAN'T REALLY AFFORD AN ATTORNEY, BUT THAT'S WHAT I HAD
TO DO.SO THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE ACROSS THE COUNTRY
THAT CAN'T AFFORD THAT, THAT NEED A REPOSITORY OF
CREATIVE, EXCITING, INTERESTING ACCOMMODATIONS THAT --
THAT SPEAK TO THEIR CHILDREN'S NEEDS.

MOONEY:YEAH.WELL, I JUST WANT TO -- TO PICK UP ON TWO
THINGS.AND -- AND A WONDERFUL, I THINK, COMMENT FOR US
TO -- TO END OUR EVENING ON AND -- AND TRANSITION TO -- TO
SOME MORE PERSONAL CONVERSATION.BUT YOU -- YOU ARE SO
RIGHT IN THAT WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS IS A PHYSICAL PLACE AND
A VIBRANT SUPPORT SYSTEM TO HELPING MOMS AND DADS,
LEARNERS THEMSELVES, EDUCATORS FOR THAT MATTER.BECAUSE
MANY EDUCATORS HAVEN'T BEEN PREPARED FOR THIS, AND THEY'VE
BEEN DONE A DISSERVICE BY THEIR EDUCATION, OR THEY'RE NOT
BEING SUPPORTED BY THEIR LEADERSHIP IN THEIR SCHOOL.THEY
NEED A PLACE TO HAVE THE CONVERSATION ABOUT HOW DO WE
CHANGE ENVIRONMENT AND NOT KIDS.HOW DO WE CHANGE
ENVIRONMENT AND NOT KIDS?AND THE TOOLS FOR THAT ARE
CREATIVE ACCOMMODATIONS AND MODIFICATIONS.THAT
REPOSITORY DOESN'T EXIST.I THINK IT'S WONDERFUL PROJECT
FOR SOMEBODY TO TAKE UPON THEMSELVES.I WILL TAKE THAT
BACK TO SOME OF THE NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS THAT I'M A PART
OF AND SUGGEST THAT AS A -- AN IMPORTANT AND -- AND URGENT
NEED IN THE COMMUNITY AROUND THAT ISSUE.

audience:IT COULD BE A PLACE THAT EDUCATORS COULD GO TO
TO LEARN ABOUT HOW TO IMPLEMENT --

MOONEY:THAT'S RIGHT.THAT'S RIGHT.IT COULD BE -- IT
COULD BE AN INTERACTIVE WIKI EXPERIENCE, IT COULD BE AN
INTERACTIVE SOCIAL COMMUNITY AS WELL FOR PEOPLE TO SHARE
IDEAS.SO THAT'S A PROJECT FOR SOMEBODY IN THE ROOM HERE
DEFINITELY.AND FOR OTHER FOLKS.AND THAT'S A WONDERFUL
IDEA IN THE SPIRIT OF NOT CHANGING KIDS BUT CHANGING
ENVIRONMENT.NOW LET ME JUST END OUR NIGHT ON AN
AFFIRMATION OF YOUR FIRST COMMENT.WHICH IS WE'VE CREATED
A SYSTEM THAT HAS -- HAS YOU SUBMIT YOURSELF OR YOUR CHILD
TO PATIENTHOOD TO ACCESS THE RIGHT TO LEARN DIFFERENTLY.
THE RIGHT TO LEARN DIFFERENTLY SHOULD BE A UNIVERSAL HUMAN
RIGHT THAT'S NOT MEDIATED BY A DIAGNOSIS.AND WE SHOULD
BE MOVING IN THE PLACE THAT IS EMBODIED BY THE LANGUAGE OF
THE SPONSOR OF TONIGHT.

WHICH IS THIS ABOUT ACCESSIBLE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS FOR
EVERYBODY.THIS ISN'T ABOUT ACCESS -- ACCESSIBLE
LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS FOR A FEW.WE NEED TO BE MOVING
TO THE PLACE OF UNIVERSAL DESIGN OF LEARNING NOT JUST OF
BUILDINGS, AND WE NEED TO MAKE THAT CENTRAL TO THIS
ACCOMMODATION -- CONVERSATION.IT SHOULD BE
ACCOMMODATIONS FOR ALL.THAT SHOULD BE THE MANDATE.
BECAUSE WHEN WE GET TO KNOW ANY LEARNER, WHETHER THEY
HAVE A DIAGNOSIS OR NOT, WE SEE THESE IMPORTANT HUMAN
DIFFERENCES OF:I LEARN BY HEARING, I LEARN BY SEEING,
I LEARN MY EXPERIENCING, I NEED MORE TIME, I NEED LESS
TIME.THAT'S -- THAT'S NOT A DIAGNOSIS ISSUE.
CERTAINLY ARE THERE PEOPLE ON THIS CONTINUUM THAT HAVE
GREATER CHALLENGES, LIKE MYSELF, THAN OTHERS?YES.BUT
IT'S A CONTINUUM NONETHELESS.AND IT'S A CONTINUUM OF
LEARNING DIVERSITY THAT WE SHOULD BE CELEBRATING AS A
VIBRANT PART OF AN ACADEMIC COMMUNITY.SO I APPRECIATE
THAT COMMENT.

SO MY THANK YOUS AGAIN TO THE VARYING GROUPS THAT
ORGANIZED THIS EVENING.IT WAS A REAL HONOR FOR ME TO
BE A PART OF IT.SO YOU KNOW, TONIGHT IS NOT THE ONLY
ENGAGEMENT FOR ME.I'M SPEAKING TOMORROW TO EDUCATION
STUDENTS.SO THEY'VE MADE A COMMITMENT TO SUPPORTING
NEXT GENERATION OF TEACHERS.AND I'M ALSO HAVING A
CHANCE TO SPEAK TO HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS TOMORROW, WHICH
I'M REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO.THEY WORKED REALLY HARD
TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN.IT -- IT'S -- IT'S REALLY AN HONOR
FOR ME TO BE A PART OF IT.AND CAN WE GIVE THEM JUST
ONE MORE ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR -- FOR DOING THAT?OKAY?
THANK YOU.
### Captioning by Elizabeth Archer ###