Re: DSM: People measurers

bud & barb brooks (
Mon, 25 May 1998 15:56:24 -0400

> > > Statistical data is for OK for measuring new cars coming off an
> > > line but not for measuring people and I for one do whatever I can to
> > > discourage the practice.\


I think you made some excellent points, however, I interpreted Dale's
remark differently. I felt he was referring more to all the testing in
schools today and the competitive atmosphere that really lowers self esteem
when a kid doesn't test well or he's labeled, "learning disabled." When we
compare children and have an arbitrary set of standards that god knows who
set, how can that possibly be healthy? To me it is really absurd to say to
parents, "Your child is a really good learner" and then to the next parent,
"I'm sorry your child is learning disabled." That's such a disgusting word
to me, disabled _- so negative and insensitive.

I believe everyone can learn, NO ONE is disabled in a negative way, just
interested in different things. And your attention span depends upon
whether you are interested in the subject. Attention Deficit Disorder is
another ridiculous term! Everyone is attentive to something they enjoy and
are interested in.

Now statistical evidence and studies where no one is directly harmed by
labeling in a negative way is a neutral subject for me. If that turns your
lights on, so be it. If you feel better with statistics, that's great.
And yes, if we had more scientific studies on SVS, it might make a
difference but overall I think this philosophy is something felt in the
heart, not the head.

Barb Brooks
> Well, I couldn't possibly disagree more. A great deal can and has been
> learned about the human species and the human condition because of
> statistics. For example, without statistics we couldn't track progress
> in the economic equality between the races. We would never have found
> out about the link between crime rates and the population of teenagers
> within a certain age range. We wouldn't be able to isolate
> environmental causes of cancer or other diseases. Is there no meaning in
> the statistic which show large numbers of kids graduating from public
> schools can barely read? How about statistic showing how AIDs is most
> often transmitted? Or how old kids typically are when they become
> sexually active? Statistics have demonstrated that a lack of B vitamens
> can result in a birth defect. This list could go on forever. These
> things can't possibly be demonstrated by case studies. I'm astounded
> that you believe all of this is meaningless! How can it be so? Sure,
> statistics can be used the wrong way, but that doesn't mean they
> shouldn't be used. And statistics never, ever mean that every individual
> will fit a certain mode, any more than they mean you will never have a
> plane crash simply becouse planes are statistically safer than cars.
> What if a well designed study showed that SVS graduates were more likely
> to go to college, had higher self esteem, lower rates of diagnosed
> learning disabilities, were generally more literate, are more likely to
> have become experts in one or more interests and those interests helped
> them in college and eventually in their careers? I can hardly believe
> that you would be against this!
> If everyone here was so absolutely positive that this type of schooling
> is really better than traditional schools, then I don't understand the
> distain for third party assessments. Frankly, I think is it extremely
> unrealistic to expect the rest of the world to make a radical switch in
> schooling styles based only on 'faith.' At least in the U.S., we are
> surrounded by companies, politicians and charities all calling on us to
> have faith in their product. Later we find out that the information we
> were given was one sided, or perhaps a charity spent 75% of it's
> donations on phone solicitations. That's just real life. SVS proponents
> must learn to navigate this environment of skepticism by providing solid
> facts and third party evidence which support it's belief, not simply
> telling people to 'have faith.'
> This mindset and fear of third party reviews will hold back the
> popularity of the schools.
> Almost all scientific studies rely on statistics. Basically, without
> statistics or data, science would cease to exist. We would never learn
> anything about humans. Is this what you want?
> Example: For years researchers have studied highly creative people to
> try and find out how they differ from less creative people. While there
> are obviously differences from person to person, the researchers did
> find that, as a group, highly creative people were far more hyperactive,
> less attentive, independent, impulsive, switched from task to task, were
> sensation seeking, and highly sensitive. Guess what, these are the
> traits of attention deficit disorder. Some scientists now say ADD is
> really just another way of looking at a highly creative person.
> Statistics were used to show that so-call ADD kids, currently labeled as
> having a brain defect, were actually within the broad range of what
> should be considered normal. Statistics were absolutely critical in this
> example in order to identify certain trends within a subgroup of people,
> and to counteract everyone's assumption that ADD kids have a 'defect.'
> Also, there are times when individuality is not always the most
> important thing (I'm saying this as a very independent person). As
> someone with a very different thinking/learning style, I grew up hearing
> that I wasn't trying hard enough, lacked character, etc. and I couldn't
> remember things or pay attention to lectures. Difficulties have
> persisted into home life and work. Finding out about ADD a few years
> ago, and later creativity, temperament differences and dyslexia, was
> like having a dark cloud disappear from overhead. Mind you, I do not
> accept the medical community's assessment that ADD is a disorder or a
> defect. But, it is NOT so great to believe you are the only person in
> the universe with a consistent history of not being able to do things
> that everyone else can. Finding out that there are others who go
> through the same hardships, and being able to talk to these people is
> really something. Finding out that all these little personality quirks
> and difficulties are related and that other people have them as well is
> truly amazing to me. And finding out that these problem quirks may be
> actually related to a gift of creative thinking is even better. On our
> Born to Explore mailing list we compare notes and offer each other
> advise based on our experiences. Just lately, a newbie with two ADD sons
> and an ADD husband took some advice and recently wrote back that,
> without the input from the list, she would have gone mad and blamed her
> family for their 'active' behavior. Now she feels at peace with their
> "differences." This was made possible by the use of statistics and
> generalizations.
> Since my son definitely has my personality, only more so it seems, I
> have studied positive and alternative books on ADD extensively. You
> would probably think that is a waste of time because my son is an
> individual and shouldn't be labeled ADD. Well, I'm not having him
> diagnosed because I don't like official labels either. However, I have
> learn a great deal, starting when he was only one, about how his
> personality traits can best be handled. Without having read these
> books, I guarantee you that we would be in a meltdown now at age 5.
> These books will say..if you're child does X, try Y. These tips often
> work. The best thing I read was the Abuse it - Lose it method of
> teaching self discipline. Another was The Edison Trait. I truly believe
> that my focusing on parenting methods outlined in these books has helped
> my son infinitely and we would otherwise be engaged in an endless cycle
> of negativity, which is so typical of ADD kids. If I had been closed
> minded about the ADD categorization, I wouldn't have learned this
> precious information.
> Connections are made between phenomena when groups are studied, and that
> means statistics. If I had been closed-minded about patterns and trends
> in populations I never would have found any of this information which
> has changed my life. I have utilized many tips written for ADDers, like
> doing certain chores on certain days of the week, having a clock in each
> room, and having a special place for the car keys, which have really
> helped. If I had said "I'm an individual, and there cannot be anyone in
> the universe which shares certain parts of my personality" I would not
> have been able to learn from their experiences. We are, after,
> ultimately all related to each other and are more alike than we are
> different.
> I think SVS supporters should look for researcher in the area of
> alternative education, psychology or other disciplines and try to get
> them to do a study on the effectiveness of the school. As I said
> before, I'm not talking about tests so much as subjective information,
> or maybe a combination. If 90% of SVS graduates can read at level A,
> and only 80% of public school grads (of the same demographics) can read
> at level A, that would certainly have meaning. Researchers will use the
> size of the study to determine levels of confidence for their results.
> Subjective portions would use interviews. Researchers would also have to
> take into consideration that a higher percentage of SVS kids might have
> different learning styles, and that's why their parents enrolled then at
> SVS. If I was a scientist in that field of research, I would love to do
> such a study.
> -Teresa Gallagher
> "No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without
> proof." - Henry David Thoreau, from Walden.