> In a message dated 1/23/2002 12:50:23 PM Eastern Standard Time,
> firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
> << And even with the 12-year-old who CAN'T (or doesn't WANT to)
>read, one should also ask oneself: "What CAN they do?" and
>"What does he WANT to do?" -- rather than the opposite.
>Because suppose the young chap (or lassie) is great at painting, or
>photography, or playing the violin, or driving go-carts and winning
>every single race into which s/he enters: what does it matter, then,
>that s/he can't or won't read? S/He could easily make a living doing
>something which doesn't call for reading. >>
> Do you know, reading your e-mail, I was truly pleased at how you
> generally hit the nail on the head. Essentially, you were pointing out things
> that I had previously failed to convey.
> I was slightly disheartened, however,
> later in your e-mail. My feelings specifically pertain to your paragraphs
> contained in the top and middle of this e-mail. I will briefly explain.
> "And even with the 12-year-old who CAN'T (or doesn't WANT to)
> read, one should also ask oneself: "What CAN they do?" and
> "What does he WANT to do?" -- rather than the opposite."
> About this statement, I vehemently disagree. That is, assuming that its
> is implying what I think it is. Are you proposing that a 12 year old who
> attempts to learn to read, but cannot, focus on what they "can" do instead?
No, no, of course not. I mean that EVERYBODY should concen-
trate on what they CAN do rather than what they CAN'T. What
does it matter what they CAN'T do? I can't fly (without the help
of an aircraft, that is). Nor can I hold my breath under water for
more than about a minute, juggle multiple balls, or run the marathon:
but so what? I CAN do a whole lot of other things, and it's THOSE
I concentrate on, rather than on flying or holding my breath under
I take my cue from my wife Claire, who can't walk. She can hardly
even lift up a fork to her lips to eat, in fact. She has very little
strength in her muscles from the neck down, as the result of a con-
genital neuro-muscular condition which she has had since birth. But
she CAN think, all the same, and so she has an excellent career as a
very good lawyer!
> As if in the process of elimination? Indeed, I find this to be in striking
> contradiction to your previous statements, specifically:
> "If the 12-year-old WANTS to
> read but can't, surely something needs to be done"
> I am of course assuming by this that you meant, perhaps, special tutoring
> or perhaps special education. Let us not, on the issue, fluctuate to
> drastically between personal interpretations of what qualifies as a "learning
> disorder" and what can reasonably by diagnosed by a medical professional.
No, here it's all dependent on what the person WANTS to do. Sup-
pose a person WANTS to climb Mt. Everest, shouldn’t they be
given every encouragement, and any help if that's possible, even if
it appears almost certain that they will fail?
> Certainly, though I hold no specific expertise on the issue, I have had
> limited personal experience with the (general) inherent fraudulence contained
> within the disorder.
Frankly I don’t consider not being able to read a "disorder". It is a
HANDICAP, in our very literate society, but it is NOT a disorder.
My son Cyrus has great difficulty writing, and often switches b's
and d's even now (at age 15). And he reads only with considerable
difficulty. But that hasn't prevented him from devising three major
inventions (one of them having been published at
... nor has it prevented him from amassing so much knowledge
about engineering (his favourite subject) and science in general, that
he is often right when his teachers in high school are wrong (and the
teachers eventually have to admit it, because he has proof for
almost everything he says!) He gets most of his knowledge from
watching TV, especially the Discovery Channel and the Learning
Channel, but also from *Star Trek* and other shows. And, of
course, from THINKING about what he sees on TV.
Reading and writing -- and 'rithmetic too -- are far less important
than thinking: especially thinking independently and without pre-
> I had a best friend at Sudbury years ago, who had to leave because his
> mother pulled him out. Smart as razor, he was. Of course, contained within
> the walls of a High School in Newton, they diagnosed him with a learning
> disorder, and he was forced to engage in special classes for years.
That's terrible. His parents should have just left him alone, and he'd
have found his own way. He should not have been forced to do or
learn what his body obviously rebels against.
As I often say to both Cyrus and his younger brother Arthur, the
best thing one can do is DO NOTHING! One should learn from
Lao Tzu, who says in his book *Tao Teh Ching*:
The Tao does nothing, and yet nothing remains undone;
The man of Tao does nothing, and thereby accomplishes
One's own nature -- i.e., that which underlies one's body, mind and
spirit -- will automatically do what is best for one, if only it is al-
lowed to do it!
> I just what overall clarification, which I deem of extreme importance:
> Which do you mean? If child A cannot read, though he tries mightily, should
> he (1) be more focused on the things he does well, or (2) is he entitled to
> help from professionals outside of school? I am sure that all of the meaning
> behind your statements was not conveyed, and I look forward to hearing the
> true meaning from you.
As I said, it all depends on what the person WANTS. (I hesitate to
use the word "child", because the principle applies to people of all
I myself do not compose music VERY well, but I LIKE to do it, so
I do it, knowing all the same that I will never be a great composer.
But I DO write very well, and my thinking is of the very best and
highest quality, to which claim -- though I say so myself -- my
works published on my Home Page amply testify: so I concentrate
on writing and thinking more than on composing music.
But I don't GIVE UP on music just because I do it only passably
well! It's fun sometimes to do something that one knows one isn't
ever going to be the best in.
One should certainly go for anything one really and truly WANTS
to do, even if one realises that will never be able to do it well or
easily. (Cyrus WANTED to read the *Dune* series of novels, so
he did so, even though reading anything is quite hard for him!) But
one should not be MADE to do what OTHERS want him/her to
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This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0.0 : Wed Mar 27 2002 - 19:39:49 EST