ADHD, Autism Spectrum, dyslexia…
As we continue to try and better understand the way our minds work, diagnostic criteria in psychology keeps developing. And while real life is often slow to catch up with science, many are familiar with the most common learning difficulties. And while change in real life may be slow, changes in our school system happen at a snail’s pace.
However, outside of these systems, many are pushing for a new approach to our individual differences: neurodiversity.
For me, this means that I don’t focus on ideas of ‘norms’, which are often simply an average and don’t cover the variety of human differences, strengths and weaknesses. They also have little to say about people’s actual experiences. While diagnoses can be helpful to recognise and understand patterns, my approach is that we all diverge from the mathematical norm one way or another. The focus is finding out who my students are, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and use those accordingly.
While it is of course important to ensure safety and well-being, many things that are seen as divergent behaviours are only perceived as such because of the systems we are in, and not because there is something inherently ‘misfitting’ about the students. Many people who perform poorly in school later excel at work, science and in other educational settings; I want my students to find self-acceptance and self-love, so they can find their own way to success. It’s not the students’ fault that our educational system was built long before we understood the beautiful diversity of the human mind.