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Elliot Rabinowitz's picture

Neurodiversity and Education

I also unfortunately could not attend class last week, but have certainly found a number of topics from the articles and previous posts quite interesting. First of all, I would like to focus on Gillian’s post. She brings up a fantastic point that definitely was thinking a lot about. For the most part, education in our country caters to a specific type of student. Therefore, students in under privileged areas not only often receive a lower quality of education, but may also be receiving a type of education not truly tailored to helping them learn and grow to fulfill their intellectual potential. (I realize I’m focusing on a specific type of education, that for intellection learning, rather than the broader sense of education that incorporates all types of learning at all ages). This educational disparity among socio-economic classes is undeniable and deserves much greater attention.


Also, I’m not exactly sure what we’re talking about when we say “neurodiversity.” People seem to be using it in many different ways, seeming to reference cultural diversity, diversity in thought process, and everything in between. Therefore, I think it’s difficult to discuss its relationship to the equally ambiguous “education.” I do think neurodiversity (whatever it means) in the classroom has value – much of education is learning how others think, whether its facts and figures or subjective opinions. This basically means that much of education, and I personally feel this applies to my own experiences, has focused on learning how to learn and think critically so that I can use this crucial skill in all aspects of life, current and future. In Eileen Haas’ article she states, “Of course, every kid needs to know certain things as a member of society, in preparation for life and for being part of our culture. But beyond that, the most important thing is teaching the brain to learn how to learn. That enables every kid, no matter what their interest is, no matter what their profession eventually becomes, or what hobbies they develop, to make the most of it.” This ties in the point discussed in many of the previous posts addressing the idea of occupation that do not require our conventional idea of higher education. I think filtering out into jobs that fit one’s personality, lifestyle, and interest is perfectly natural and people should be supported in finding their niche. However, I think some jobs do not encourage continual education and neurological stimulation (which in turn foster the ability to critically think). Therefore, finding ways to help support a community in which all people have ways to continually learn and grow seems crucial in generating this “neurodiversity” we so desire.


Finally, I found the Gaab article to present some interesting ideas, particularly the potential for fMRI to change the way in which we can learn. How will this and other technological advances change our thoughts about education in the future? How much should we value the findings in this type of translational research? Should this expensive research be supported, or should the money be allocated directly to improve our current educational system?


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