I am genuinely horrified at the support this recent TEDx talk has received. I feel it is the biggest regression in education in 100 years. As someone who has successfully worked with thousands of students internationally, and got them all to high achieving results and a sense of belonging in academia, I cannot stand the idea that education is becoming elitist again. I have received Ability Company Status for making education accessible to all.
Academics make too many assumptions - which I have had my own personal battles with over the years. Despite it all, I have earned a Ph.D. and a First Class Honours degree. My students are always heartened by the fact that if I could do it - so can they.
TED and TEDx talks generally enhance our World and make everything possible for people. I am horrified over this talk because it is so small minded and exclusive in its nature.
Not everyone can pick up a book and read it to learn. Not everyone can see the book. Not everyone can spell to write or hold the pen. Do not be presumptive in thinking all visual impaired people are not visual learners. Many of them are! All of us who work with students on the autism spectrum know that they process the World very differently to other students. Their visual and auditory processing has marked differences.
My success stories with students have been down pure and simply to the fact that I encourage them to work in the learning style that suits them - despite whatever perceived disabilities they might have.
I myself am still very much unable to distinguished phonic sound frequencies and never learned to spell in the way it is predominately taught in school. I have learned to read and write through purely visual techniques. I have brought this gift to many others who are now avid readers - despite years of torture in school and feeling inadequate. I get excited when parents tell me their children will not sleep because they are reading too much or now teaching their siblings to read their way.
I hate the idea that kinesthetic learners can be great at sports in school and rubbish at everything else. This is not acceptable and even our most successful sports heroes still anguish over how badly they did in school.
Practical people are great at the practicals in school but only get half the marks in the subject because the theory defeats them. Our auditory learners are in constant trouble for talking and often labeled as disruptive chatter boxes. The number of students labelled as ADHD seems to be growing annually as these students struggle to fit into the constraints of school and find it excessively boring. I certainly do not feel we need to blame our parents for our genes or feel that education is unattainable in any way.
We have a duty to understand, care and incorporate these learners into our education systems - not blankly dismiss them all as not existing. These are many of the reasons why students with learning difficulties and impairments have been marginalised for decades.
A better outlook for me has always been that if we get it right for these people we get it right for everyone. I hope people will start to stop and think before they blankly share this very irresponsible TEDx talk. I have not even touched on the personality factors involved in education. Most enlightened Educationalists agree that one size does not fit all. TED is supposed to make us think about our fellow people we share the Planet with.
Dr. Naoisé O'Reilly
Leonardo Da Vinci appeared to suffer from ADHD – how much more could he have achieved in his lifetime?
Leonardo Da Vinci appears to display all the traits of having had ADHD. For me having this condition is an effect of so much happening below the surface and Da Vinci demonstrates this better for me than many of the modern people who are rolled out as examples to others.
It is long thought that Da Vinci was dyslexic, especially with the examples of his mirrored writing. His note books have proven a challenging task in fact for any historian trying to document his work - in one sense he seems highly visual and creative - there is no other inventor that left as much of a paper trail behind but on the other hand they prove very difficult to read because of there presentation. Something many a teacher will sympathize with correcting a dyslexics paper!
But what I feel is much more interesting is the diversity of Leonardo Da Vinci's interests. I have long seen and proven the correlation between what I call multiplicity and ADHD. Multiplicity is the ability to take in information in a multiple of ways - Visual, Practical, Auditory and Kinesthetic - no wonder people with ADHD seem to have overload - jump around and get distracted easily. Da Vinci was very obviously Visual, Practical and Auditory - the Kinesthetic is hard to see as you need to know more about someone on an emotional level. He was drawn to representing characters and dwelled on the faces of the characters in his paintings - his portraits were very emotional which gives us a clue that he was kinesthetic. Mona Lisa's smile has captured the hearts of so many millions of people over the decades and even spent time in Napoleon's bedroom!
But the above would explain why he jumped around for project to project - did have prolonged periods of concentration and focus on topics he was interested in - can be described as a painter, sculptert, engineer, strategist, philosopher, writer, inventor and on and on... Many of my ADHD students show such diverse talents and interests. In fact I'm working with one 15 year old at present that I see as a Da Vinci type!
The Flip side of this of course is that Da Vinci became distraced easily - jumped from project to project. Didn't complete many commissions - created a great bigger picture but didn't focus on the details, like for example the long term lasting effects of the painting durability of the new technique he developed to paint the Sistine Chapel so he could paint slower and obsess over the faces for certain characters in the painting.
Leonardo Da Vinci only completed 25 paintings in his lifetime as a result of the random nature of his life. Many of his ideas where not built or created until hundreds of years after his death - such as his bridges or his famous bronze horse. Some of this can be put down to being far ahead of his time but in other cases I see great similarities between the students and adult clients we work with in Confidence Club and The Forever Method. Many of our clients seem to have the same "self-destruct button" that prevented Da Vinci from developing more of his ideas into reality. I meet many students who either focus too much on small details of interests or jump randomly to the next fad or interest. Their work will often be presented in as erratic a nature as the hundreds of notebooks Da Vinci left behind - interestingly he always wanted his notebooks to be published. We so enjoy taking people with these extreme levels of information overload and creativity to their true potential. Da Vinci is someone I would have loved to have had the opportunity to have worked with!
Dr. Naoisé O'Reilly Expression Developist™
Well that's the 1st mistake - thinking about the "teaching". If we instead look at the learners - the students and look at the world from their perspective we may begin to not only accommodate everyone but have them reach their full potential. Most of all have them be happy and enjoy doing it!
So if we take the learning nation of Ireland - what are they like?
Well we have a nation of sociable chatterboxes that have a huge number of successful athletics when you think about the size of the country. We make an impact wherever we go. We are also very generous again for the size of Ireland we contribute hugely in charity donations, peace keeping and volunteer work . We are hugely proud of anything irish!
So in simple terms that makes us Auditory, Kinaesthetic learners that need huge amounts of encouragement and praise. We really care about what everyone thinks of us, so like most other parts of the world we are a largely extrovert society. We need to work with others in social settings.
The Purple learning method ebook is now available for Download!
In this live setting I talk about what the purple learning project really means and the impacts I hope it will have on the future of the school environment.
Dr. Naoisé O'Reilly