I mentioned here a while ago that I had started reading Suzanne Antonetta’s A Mind Apart: Travels in a Neurodiverse World. Well, I finished it just a few moments ago (depending on what a moment is), and now I kind of want to read it again and take notes and let my thoughts go and see where they take me from her words. But it’s due back at the library tomorrow and I have school work to do and many other things and I’m a little afraid of being open to the ramblings of my mind while reading again, so I’m not going to do that. However, there were some words near the end that I stuck my bookmark into to share with you because I had something to say about them.
Page 215: “My mind ways give me an inability to see things simply, a common syndrome of the neurodiverse.”
This reminds me of trying to do homework in elementary school. I would have math worksheets to fill out, and did them quickly, with no issues, until I got to the final problem or two (they were always at the end, these troublesome questions). Then, I had trouble. I don’t remember how severe my reactions were, but I do remember spending inordinate amounts of time on these last problems, needing my parents to talk me through them again and again, until finally I gave up and wrote the answer. It wasn’t that I didn’t know the answer all along–I most certainly did. The problem was that these worksheets always ended with prompts like “Explain your answer.” I always thought that the answer was complicated, though I knew it wasn’t because it was the same every day and the lines provided weren’t long enough for such an answer, especially in first grade handwriting. Why, I wondered, did I have to explain my answer…it was right, it was right because that’s just how it worked, because I did it right, and explaining it would be highly complex and philosophical (though I didn’t put it into those words at that time), and anyway, why did I need to explain it–the teacher already understood and knew I understood. These were very, very simple questions, and I just…didn’t get it, in some part of me. I did understand and knew what I needed to write and could have been done with it so much more quickly and easily, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t answer those questions without making sure someone knew I thought they were stupid. Or maybe that wasn’t it; I don’t remember thinking that at the time, but it seems a reasonable enough explanation. Having gone through much more school since then, I have come to realize that people, apparently, have low standards and don’t really expect me to do my best when answering such questions, no matter what they may claim philosophically. They do not expect me to write an excellent essay to the best of my abilities; they expect average, to the best of a mediocre twelve year old’s abilities (at the college level; in first grade, of course, a lower level was expected). They do not expect brilliantly explained theories of anything from me; they simply want me to answer the question, and do it simply. My college textbooks, particularly one for teacher education, are written quite poorly…well, maybe not…maybe it’s average. Even this blog…the proofreader suggests taking out “complex expressions” like “require” and replacing them with words like “need” to make it easier to read. I’m sorry, but require is not a complex word. And passive sentences…I’ll admit I use them a bit more than is necessary, especially online, where I don’t put forth my best effort (do I ever?), but really, I think most people reading this blog will be able to understand “The papers were given to me” or “The teacher gave me the papers” or “I received the papers” equally well. They all say the same thing. Or perhaps I am seeing this too simply or not thinking simply enough. Going back to those math worksheets, what I needed, at least what helps in similar situations now, is rewording of the question to sort of unlock my answer that’s stuck in my head upon reading or hearing the original wording. I understand that different wording works for different people, but a writer cannot possibly serve everyone in a single piece, no matter the word choice or complexity of phrase or anything, so why bother trying to have “easier” readings all the time? These better wordings annoy me and make it harder for me to read, while I know they make it easier for some others. Why must we try to limit the diversity of thought and understanding? Another thing from school: you can’t start a sentence with “because” because it will be incomplete. THIS IS FALSE! For instance, “Because of the recent decline in woodpecker sightings, it is believed that there will be a corresponding decrease of seemingly random holes in trees.” That’s a perfectly complete sentence, and it’s structured so that some people understand it better than they would if it said, “It is believed that there will be a decrease of seemingly random holes in trees. This decrease corresponds to the recent decline in woodpecker sightings.” Why are we taught cause and effect and then told we can’t use it in our writing, in order? Because the standards of the majority are low, we are not expected to fulfill our personal potentials. Instead, we are expected to be mediocre; at the same time, those who excel are seen as special, people who achieve the unachievable, even though many more people could excel if given the proper nurturing.
Well, that’s not quite where I was expecting to go with this post. I don’t really know where I was going, but this wasn’t it. I know it’s a bit, well, rambly and mediocre, but I have been conditioned to not care, and that’s the path I’m choosing to take. The path of least resistance is…easier…than caring, though, obviously, I do care, sometimes a bit too much, apparently. But I digress, again. Maybe. I’m not really sure. Perhaps I should reword it.