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Sledgehead

How Special Is "special"?

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When I was at school, they handed out prizes every year to certain kids (ahem :D ). These prizes were awarded at "Prize Giving", a ceremony organized to give those who had put in the work a little recognition. The prizes were pretty low key: book tokens and returnable silverware. The prizes were awarded per subject / discipline, one, at a push two, for each yearly cohort. I have to admit, at the time these ceremonies made me feel a little bit "special". I soon learnt at university that my 1 in maybe 100 status was not quite so "special".

As life has ticked on I have become inclined to think fewer and fewer people "special". Perhaps the ftse 350 managers are "special". Perhaps the cabinet are "special". One tenth of the Premier league. You know the kind of thing I'm talking about.

So imagine how shocked I was to find a full 1/5th of our children are classed as having "Special Educational Needs". That means, for educational purposes, these children are classed as "special". Roll that forward a few generations and 20% of the country will have something "special" about them!

Is it just me, or are other people struggling with the idea that such a huge swathe of the population can be classed as "speical" in a particular aspect of their life?

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Guest eight

When I was at school, they handed out prizes every year to certain kids (ahem :D ). These prizes were awarded at "Prize Giving", a ceremony organized to give those who had put in the work a little recognition. The prizes were pretty low key: book tokens and returnable silverware. The prizes were awarded per subject / discipline, one, at a push two, for each yearly cohort. I have to admit, at the time these ceremonies made me feel a little bit "special". I soon learnt at university that my 1 in maybe 100 status was not quite so "special".

As life has ticked on I have become inclined to think fewer and fewer people "special". Perhaps the ftse 350 managers are "special". Perhaps the cabinet are "special". One tenth of the Premier league. You know the kind of thing I'm talking about.

So imagine how shocked I was to find a full 1/5th of our children are classes as having "Special Educational Needs". That means, for educational purposes, these children are classed as "special". Roll that forward a few generations and 20% of the country will have something "special" about them!

Is it just me, or are other people struggling with the idea that such a huge swathe of the population can be classed as "speical" in a particular aspect of their life?

I think I'm right in saying that schools get additional funding for special needs children. So there is a perverse motivation at work.

eight

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Teachers get more cash, consultants get more work, 'specialists' get a career.

Send a kid to a kiddie shrink, how often do you think they'll say 'nowt wrong there, just needs to pull their thumbs out. Don't need to see them again unless things take a significant turn.'

Or will they suck their teeth and say 'Oh dear oh dear. Looks like they have some very serious special needs, we will need to run some exhaustive tests over the next 12 weeks, then monitor weekly for the next 5 years. Here's the bill...'

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"Special needs" means the pupil requires specific, tailored, individual attention, so indeed they are "special".

If 20% of people wear bespoke suits, does that make the suits any less special?

Well done on your 6th form physics prize, well deserved I'm sure.

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"Special needs" means the pupil requires specific, tailored, individual attention, so indeed they are "special".

If 20% of people wear bespoke suits, does that make the suits any less special?

Well done on your 6th form physics prize, well deserved I'm sure.

Your desperation to argue with me on any and every topic is starting to show JY.

ALL children would benefit from "specific, tailored, individual attention". That does not mean they "require it". And seeing as ALL would benefit, your definition implies ALL are "special" (ie unique) by virtue of their needs.

I don't know whether you think you are being clever by being deliberately obtuse, but I'd have thought the meaning of my post clear: not everyone deemed to require "specific, tailored, individual attention" does require such attention, and therefore they do not have "special needs", and thus are not "special" (ie unique) by virtue of their educational needs, and that is supported by the huge percentage of those deemed "special".

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Your desperation to argue with me on any and every topic is starting to show JY.

ALL children would benefit from "specific, tailored, individual attention". That does not mean they "require it". And seeing as ALL would benefit, your definition implies ALL are "special" (ie unique) by virtue of their needs.

I don't know whether you think you are being clever by being deliberately obtuse, but I'd have thought the meaning of my post clear: not everyone deemed to require "specific, tailored, individual attention" does require such attention, and therefore they do not have "special needs", and thus are not "special" (ie unique) by virtue of their educational needs, and that is supported by the huge percentage of those deemed "special".

OK.

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I think the first part of the question was a more interesting topic for debate - ie how we put people on pedestals and ultimately realise they are just normal people.

Nowadays I don't really see anyone as special in that way - the media makes us realise how they are all usually just as flawed as we are.

By default I now probably look down on people I would have looked up to as a kid - eg footballers (overpaid chavs), mps (thieves looking out for their own interests), policemen (thugs).

Special with regards to education at these volumes is just a euphemism for slow or stupid. The aim is just to bring these kids to a certain standard, so they aren't so special any more.

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My mother used to teach 'dyslexic' kids. In those days it was the early days of 'give any kid that steps out of line or falls behind a syndrome' so there were few specialists and some bog standard teacher would be given the task of dealing with the labelled children.

She was massively skeptical of the emerging special needs industry as only one or two of the kids could be said to be truly 'learning impaired'. Most had just slipped behind for fairly mundane reasons and with a little intensive help caught up quickly. She used to get a card every year from one parent still thankful that she'd saved their son from the stigma of being labelled.

The trouble is, few schools really push children now. If a kid falls behind or plays up a little it's 'Oooooh, we'd better get him assessed...' not 'He needs a little extra help or a slightly different approach.' There's no time or motivation for that any more - it's easier to call in the psychobabblers.

A friend's kid is 'a gifted learner' according to her school, but to my mind she's just normal for her age - bright, but no more so than any of the kids in the higher sets when I was at school. Her mum simply augmented her learning and taught her to read and write with proper grammar from the outset. So now any kid that doesn't write like a semi-literate moron at age 12 is 'incredibly gifted.' It's crazy, crazy stuff.

Read John Taylor Gatto and John Holt.

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  • 261 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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