Attention Deficit

At my weekly volunteer class, the usual teacher has been on maternity since December so another teacher has taken the class. Recently, I noticed that there were an unusual number of ‘drifters’ wandering about while the teacher was trying to teach. One was walking around rubbing something in his hands; another walked over to the rocking chair at the side and started rocking on it. One more crawled behind the white board and started fiddling with the paper and tools under it. Not too surprisingly, they were all boys and I think at least one of them is diagnosed with ADHD ( Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). I did read before that many children are misdiagnosed with ADHD. I can well imagine because when I saw those little lost wanderers, they look like mischievous boys who are bored of sitting down or disinterested because the work is too difficult for them. Apparently, some of them come from less fortunate circumstances so that might also contribute to their inability to concentrate.

This week, I went into class to find that those same drifter boys were left in the class weaving with yarn while the rest were upstairs being tested for giftedness. I happened to sit in on the later part of one of their testing sessions and it seems to require a lot of quiet attention to verbal instructions which these boys were unable to handle. To make matters worse, the substitute teacher wasn’t around and there was a substitute to a substitute and it was absolute chaos in class. After this experience, I’m not sure I’ll enjoy being a teacher to elementary school children. I think I’d probably enjoy tutoring much more since I’d be able to focus more on teaching rather than thinking about instilling discipline.

I wonder how Calvin will be like when he starts formal schooling. When I think back on what I learnt in school, I have to admit it seems much less in depth and less interesting than some of the lapbook projects that me and Calvin are working on. Certainly the picture books we borrow from the library do a better job of illustrating the ideas than a few paragraphs in the textbook and a couple of simplistic pictures. I felt like most of what I did was memorization, perhaps because I did not feel engaged by the information. I certainly did not feel the urge to learn anything more than what was in the textbook.

Maybe one of the reasons why I enjoyed English Lit so much during secondary school was because I felt like I could use my own ingenuity to spot patterns/ symbols in a book and to come up with a compelling argument. That might also explain why I used to write horrible essays when I think the topic is too cliche and overly-discussed. I enjoy writing because I like putting new ideas into words. If it has already been argued to death many times over, I struggle to put together those Frankenstein ideas that do not stem from my own head.

With that, I worry about whether school will engage little Calvin. I wonder if schooling has changed in Singapore. I guess we can always continue our little lapbook projects on the side.

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