Taxonomical with the Truth

Taxonomy is something I’ve been thinking about recently, because it very much underlies our current world view.  Everything is classified and sub-classified so that it can be put into a tidy little box, marked neatly with a (preferably Latin) name and declared separate from everything else.  We do it with flora and fauna, obviously, but that mania for neat, clear, unambiguous boundaries and definitions has become a mainstay of life in general.  It’s how we understand and make sense of things – their features, their purposes, their very existence.Oxford Museum Of Natural History, Oxford

At times, the classifications have to be tweaked.  Poor old Pluto is downgraded from Planet to Big Rock; some garden plant suddenly gets a new name and all the garden centres have to readjust their labelling.  And don’t even get me started on the labels they use and change around in medical and psychological diagnoses…  Basically, though, humanity clings to the concept that everything that is, can be labelled, and that this is a Good Thing.

Was it always so?  We know our Greek and Roman forebears were keen on this organised labelling idea, but if we go way back to the people who made those strange and wonderful structures that seem to evade neat classification and confound the theorists, I suspect a very different world view was in place.

Teotihuacan, Mexico City, PyramidWe are told by the experts that these creations were burial chambers or astronomical observatories or temples or meeting places or whatever the latest fragments of archaeology suggest.  They dig in the dark and assume that a few pieces of charred sheep bone or potsherds will allow them to make a classification.  The truth is, though, we don’t get it.  We, as 21st century humans, simply can’t see why so many people would work together and go to such enormous lengths to create massive, perfectly aligned and painstakingly constructed edifices such as the Giza pyramid complex, Gobekli Tepe, the Stonehenge landscape or Teotihuacan for ANY of those purposes.  The nearest (relatively) modern equivalents we can find are the great Gothic cathedrals of mediaeval Europe or intricate mausoleums, so, for want of better data, we decide that’s what they must have been ‘for’.

Deep inside, though, we know there has to be more to it than that.

What if our distant ancestors lived in a world where classification was considered counterproductive or, at the very least, irrelevant?

Think of all those folk tales and ancient religious texts where a name was considered to be a dangerous thing – so powerful that it was only to be used by initiates, and then only in the direst of circumstances.  That suggests that categorisation per se was not the way their minds worked.  Did these people see the world, and indeed the cosmos, as something so integrated, that to divide it into its constituent parts would be to destroy, weaken or pollute it?  Was it, indeed, a form of heresy?

What if, instead of saying, “Hey, guys, let’s build a gigantic temple to the gods here,”  or “Oh, this would be a great place to build an observatory,” those wise and distant people would perhaps work together to build something that was not this or that or the other, but something that was this AND that AND the other AND all that they could possibly create as a microcosm of the universe itself?

The current mainstream science-based world view is that everything is a fortuitous accident – evolution and climate, gravity and the tilt of an axis here or there somehow randomly resulted in all this.  As such, it’s very fragile, very likely to dissolve back into chaos and we need to impose order on it, if we are going to make any sense of it at all.

Earth, Globe, Space, Universe, WorldIf we can imagine a society where such a view does not hold sway – a society where the skies above us, the planet we inhabit, the plants, creatures and all of us exist as a conscious, intelligent, unified whole, with each aspect relying on the rest for its existence, there would be no need to separate and divide it.  On the contrary, all that could be done to celebrate its perfect symmetries and unity would be a job worth doing well.  I suspect that such a society would have a language based in something that expands naturally, like mathematics or perhaps musical notation, rather than words that label, define and confine.  Perhaps such a language, were it ever rediscovered, would help us towards an understanding of our mysterious ancestors, and our cosmos.


Vitruvian Lines: Part 1

 The Structure of Society and Autistic Perception

Architecture, Modern ArchitectureWithout wishing to get political, Western Society and its offshoots around the world are structured in a particular way, and have been so in one form or another since the writing of records began.  It involves having leaders, supported and advised by a cluster of experts, who dominate, control and care for the masses of ordinary people.  It doesn’t matter, for the purposes of this argument, whether that structure is a nation, a city, a company or a school.  It doesn’t matter whether the leaders are elected, self-imposed, benign or despotic.  It doesn’t matter whether they are loved, loathed or feared by their people.  All that matters is that this is the structure we, and all those around us, were born and socialised into – so much so, that we the people find it difficult to visualise our way out of this system.

Think of the number of times – even in modern history – when a hated dictatorship has been overthrown, only to be replaced by a very similar system, because that is the only way people can imagine society working.

So what has this to do with autistic perception?  Well, such societies, with their triangular power system, rely on the few controlling the many.  Clearly, that has inherent challenges.  To maintain the structure successfully, the leaders and their enforcers must keep the masses as ‘mass-like’ as possible.  Through the ages, free-thinking, independent and unusual individuals or those showing abilities which might challenge the status quo have been punished, ostracised or supressed.  We have extreme examples of this scapegoating in witch-burning, religious persecution, homophobia etc.

‘Divide and Rule’ is a highly successful strategy for preserving power.  It is in the interest of leaders and experts to keep people from deviating too much from the norm.  ‘Norms’ are far easier to control than a diverse range of individuals.  Thus we have an education system which attempts to produce clones with just enough skills to be useful to society but not enough to allow them to question it.  We have a medical system that attempts to produce in everyone enough health – mental and physical – not to be a burden and to medicate anyone who shows features that don’t fit the norm.

In the Victorian era, being left-handed was considered threateningly deviant by the authorities.  Such children had their left hands strapped down and were forced to conform to ‘normal’ behaviour – using the right hand – which often resulted in stammering, nervous tics or other responses to this barbarity as their natural tendencies were supressed.

Today a so-called ‘savant’ – an individual who can perform superhuman feats, like playing a concerto after hearing it once, drawing an accurate representation of a scene after one glimpse or one who can perform incredible mental calculations – is somewhat feared by the experts.  They can’t account for that person’s abilities, so they go to great pains to emphasise the ‘negative’ aspects of such people, such as a perceived lack of self-care, social or inter-personal skills.  Such people are not, by and large, welcome in a society which seeks to reward complicity and punish autonomy.

Similarly, people with psychic skills are often treated with disdain, branded charlatans and fraudsters or laughingly marginalised as weird or eccentric.  Although the police, corporations and government intelligence systems utilise the skills of such people, this is kept very quiet.  Publicly, they are ostracised.

Da Vinci Vitruve Luc Viatour.jpg

So in our present society, ‘Square Fillers’ (see this post for an explanation of that term) are marginalised, put down and attempts are even made to ‘normalise’ them with drugs and psychiatric interventions.  Their non-typical way of interacting with others is often given as the justification for this.

Admittedly, as society’s reliance on computer technology increases and the natural ability of Square Fillers in this area becomes increasingly obvious, they are becoming rather more tolerated and even admired than was the case twenty years ago.  It’s something like the way in which the USA gradually began to appreciate and accept their black citizens as their skills at sport provided the nation with a kudos which couldn’t be reached by the white population alone.

I know I’ve laboured this point rather, but the attitude of the ‘experts’ rubs off not just on the typical members of society, but on those with autistic perception as well.  Like the little Victorian left-handers, they can easily see themselves as deviant and wrong, and embark on a tremendous, difficult and ultimately unwinnable battle to live up to society’s standards of normalcy in order to be accepted.

It is often, in my experience, this pressure to conform to patterns that don’t fit their natural way of being which cause the secondary problems that beset so many Square Fillers – anxiety, depression and other psychological difficulties.  These are NOT a symptom of autistic perception in themselves.

The Vitruvian Lines – Introduction

Da Vinci Vitruve Luc Viatour.jpg

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo Da Vinci

Here it is, finally.  Thank you, friends, for your patience.

This is my best attempt to answer the questions implied in an article my friend and confidant Will
wrote a while ago.  Some parts of what follows have already appeared in various blog posts I have written, however there is also much new information and it ideally needs to be read as a whole.

Because of its length, I’ll be serialising these ‘lines’ in my blog for many weeks to come. I personally find blog posts over 800 or so words hard to read, as I like to ‘dip into’ them and I’ve noticed I get more ‘hits’ on my shorter articles, so I assume others are like me in that respect.

Why Vitruvian?

Because the main thrust of these lines concerns the relationship between two different populations currently inhabiting our planet – those commonly described as ‘neurotypical’ (or, more chauvinistically, ‘normal’) and those who are often labelled as highly sensitive, disordered or possessing some form of dysfunction which renders them atypical – I wanted to find a neutral way of describing the two groups.  I adhere to my principle of refusing to refer to people on the autistic spectrum as ‘disordered’.  I refer to them as ‘people with autistic perception’ or ‘autists’, sometimes separating out those at the highest cognitive levels as Asperger’s (a term no longer current in medical and psychological circles, but still in common use) or ‘high-functioning autists’.   However Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man provides an interesting way to differentiate between the populations.

As you can see from the drawing, the physical human body will fit either into the square or the circle, but not both.  Of course, those divisions only exist in a geometrical sense, as does, for example, the equator.  For me, though, they will provide a useful analogy for the groups I want to discuss.  I will therefore describe the ‘neurotypical’ population as Circle Fillers and the ‘neuro-atypical’ group as Square Fillers.   Why that way round?  There is a reason, hidden in the geometry, which I’ll come to in a future section, but for now, perhaps the metaphor of square pegs having difficulty fitting into round holes will suffice to allow you to differentiate between them.

The Inspiration

“Autistic people are capable of communicating and socialising. They have a naturally different method of accomplishing this. What exactly that method is I don’t believe is fully understood at present by either autistics or non-autistics. I don’t believe the correct words have been attributed to autistic matters to describe or explain them properly. I suspect at some point this will be achieved and hopefully will allow autism to be harnessed to its full potential and remedy the blindness of so many.”

William Bales 2016

There is nothing I enjoy more than a good puzzle – especially one that could benefit everyone if it were solved.  The comments Will made there ticked all those boxes and more for me and I have been working away at uncovering the answer ever since he wrote them.  Some of that work has been conscious, some has been more-or-less subliminal; I’ve simply set my ‘self’ the task and waited to see what it comes up with and what synchronicities appear as a result.

Obviously, because I set the framework for solving the puzzle up in that way, the various pieces of information and insight have appeared in non-linear fashion, so are quite challenging to collate as continuous text.  I’ve set out the different strands under sub-headings, then attempted to draw them together at the end.

In my next post, I will begin to explain The Vitruvian Lines in terms of the structure of society.

Making Peace with the Enemy

Poppy, Flower, Red Poppy, Blossom, BloomNot sure what prompted this – maybe all the poppies and remembrance day events, standing in an entire city brought to silence on the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour…

Anyway, this story is about another war – one that raged inside my father until almost the end of his life.

Tony was a young man in his twenties when the Second World War broke out.  He joined the RAF.  He serviced planes and was posted to some little island in the Far East – some little island that the Japanese army overran.  He became a prisoner of war.

I don’t know much about the details of his detainment.  He wouldn’t speak of the worst things to any of us.  I know he saw all his close friends die.  I know the camp staff would open sacks of mail, read out the names of the recipients, wave the envelopes before them, then toss them on the fire.  I know he grubbed in the ground for peanuts to add to the meagre rations of rice they had.  I know when he came home he looked more skeleton than man.  That was where his war began.

It raged throughout my whole childhood.  He was a sweet, kind, generous man as a rule, but if that button was pressed, heaven help anyone nearby.  The fury was astonishing.  Nothing made in Japan was allowed in our house.  Any passing reference to the country on TV or radio was instantly turned off, amidst angry mutterings.  When a neighbour mistakenly referred to my best friend (Chinese) as ‘that little Japanese girl she plays with’ they were shocked by the fury unleashed in Dad.

In my teens (oh, the foolhardiness of youth) I took him on one day.  I tried, calmly and reasonably, to point out that one couldn’t hold an entire nation responsible for the behaviour of a single group of sadistic prison guards.  I pointed out that a whole generation of Japanese had not even been alive during the war.  My mother and younger brother cowered in the corner as he lashed me verbally – and very nearly physically.  I came close to being disowned by him that day.  It took weeks to reestablish a relationship with him and I didn’t try to raise the subject again.

Many years passed.  Dad’s war continued unabated.  He reached retirement, moved to a new area – Glastonbury – and developed the closest friendship he’d had since I’d known him, with a man of similar age.  This man was sweet, wise and gentle.  He invited Dad to visit his home regularly and taught him all about his new area,  He told him legends.  He showed him the wonders of ley lines on maps and walked them with him.  He taught him about Bligh Bond and Wesley Tudor Pole and the heritage of Avalon.  Every time I visited, Dad couldn’t wait to share his new discoveries with me.  It was beautiful to see – like a flower, so long in the bud, finally unfurling.  He was happier and more peaceful than I’d ever known him.

This friend, though, had one further gift for Dad – the greatest of all.

“Tony,” he said one day, “There’s going to be a change in this house.  We’re going to be taking a young lodger.”

He went on to explain, very gently and patiently, that he and his wife had some dear friends abroad – people they’d known for many years.  This couple had a daughter who was very keen to visit England and work here.  Her English was good, but the culture would be very different to what she was used to.  Her parents were worried and had asked if their English friends would take her into their home.  Willingly, they had agreed.

“Well of course,” Dad said.  “I’d have done the same.  Good for you.”

“Yes,” his friend smiled, rather sadly, “But I don’t want this change to drive a wedge between our friendship, Tony.  I value your companionship very deeply and I very much want you to continue to visit our house and spend time with me as usual.”

“Well of course-” Dad spluttered, but his friend interrupted him.

“The young lady is Japanese, Tony.”


Girl, Asia, People, Happy, Young, SummerIt took more bravery than he had ever showed for Tony to make that choice.  He, too, valued this friendship and determined, despite all, to continue visiting his dear friend.

I wasn’t there to see how the visits went.  Perhaps he was cold and reserved towards the girl at first.  Perhaps he ignored her.  He was battling an entire lifetime of bitterness and hurt.  All I know it that on my next visit, he described the young lady to me in the most glowing terms.  He praised her gentle, sweet nature, her grace and charm, her kindness towards him, and he shook his head wonderingly.

I hugged him and felt such overwhelming gratitude towards the Universe – and his wise friend – for providing him with this wonderful opportunity to lay down his arms and finally experience peace.


I want to teach Jed

English: Hug a Hoodie! Some of Highworth's you...

What follows is a piece of writing I did about 8 years ago.

I was looking out some of my scribblings and thoughts of an educational nature for a friend’s daughter who has just graduated as a teacher, and thought this piece might be of interest to others.

I still believe and stand by every word.

I taught him last year.  I kept him in my classroom, most of the time.  I found ways to get him back, when he couldn’t stay there, and ways to get myself back, when it got too much for me.


Jed is courageous – massively so.  He takes on The Man.  He doesn’t conform because it’s the line of least resistance.  He stays true to himself, as he searches desperately for himself.  And that search, in our education system, could well destroy him.  I want to teach him and help him in his search.


Our system tells Jed he is ‘challenging’.  What a world we’d have, if every child grew up challenging, testing, thinking, experimenting and learning from their experiences, rather than their textbooks. 


Our system tells Jed his attitude is ‘wrong’.  He should accept unfairness, bias, dreary lessons from exhausted teachers who are buffeted from one new initiative to the next; targets that are number-driven, not people driven; results that compare unlike to unlike.  He should meekly bow down and cope with all these things, because life is like that.  What if it wasn’t?


Jed is very unsure of himself.  He swears and shouts loudly.  He throws chairs and punches.  He behaves in ways most people don’t.  He’s constantly told he’s bad and wrong and unteachable and impossible and he wonders who is right and what is right and why his way of reacting causes so many problems to him and everyone else.  He doubts himself.  He doubts his ways of interpreting the world.  He is deeply unhappy, but he doesn’t have a choice.  What if there was another way?


As educators, policy-makers, law-givers and law-enforcers, we rely on the fact that adults know best.  Children are young and know less, so we must teach them what we know, what we do and how we do it.  They must listen and work hard and develop self-motivation, so that when they grow up, they can run the world the way we run it.  What a recipe for progress!


A child who dares to say, “Hang on – I don’t think this is the right way; I don’t think this is the best you could do,” challenges us.

We left those feelings of uncertainty and self-doubt behind in childhood.  We don’t want them back.  We don’t want children moving us forward – challenging us.  No wonder we call it ‘challenging behaviour’.  No wonder we label them and exclude them.


Jed is excluded, again.  He calls back to see me after school.  He tells me what he did, what the teachers did and how much he wants to be back in school.  He has to have a special meeting before they decide whether to take him back.  He’s unhappy and unsure and he knows it will happen again and again until they finally wash their hands of him.


It goes without saying that Jed has massive strengths and a burning desire to learn.  With courage and tenacity like his, he could be a massive asset to society.  He could also be a suicide statistic or an inmate in a young offenders’ institution.


I want to teach Jed.  I want to teach him that there is another way.  I want to be able to tell him that our world desperately needs visionary young people like him who need to learn through experiencing and trying and testing; not through being told.


There are plenty of the other sort.  That’s fine.  Let them shine through the current system and come out with their clutch of A* passes and do the jobs suited to them.


Let the Jeds of this world learn in their way.  Let them not take anything for granted.  Let them learn philosophy and inter-personal skills and co-operative discovery and self-awareness from the moment they are discovered.


Imagine an education system where the infant school teacher announces,

“I think I’ve got a non-conformer here!”

She would say it with pride, like saying that Kirsty excels at literacy or Ahmed is amazing at sports.


They’d need a teacher who taught them how to learn, then let them try.  If they found a better method, they’d tell the teacher, who would also learn.  Targets and tests and results would be irrelevant, for the simple and excellent reason that anything worth being is, by its very nature, incapable of being tested and targeted.  The results would speak for themselves.  Society would be moved on by the people who dared to challenge our deeply imperfect system.


I want to teach Jed.  I want Jed to teach me.





Exploring life through the autistic spectrum

Earth and Moon from Mars Reconnaissance Orbite...

Earth and Moon from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter taken by HiRISE (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Either you subscribe to the view that we are all spirit and are temporarily engaged in playing an elaborate game called Life or you don’t.

I’m not attempting to make converts here – just discussing this Life the way I view it.

I’m reaching the end of my professional career now, but have been working in education long enough, and had enough encounters with children and young people to have formed some interesting ideas.

So the way I see it is this:  Before you or I were born, we existed as consciousness/spirit which made a conscious choice to head for Planet Earth and spend a few decades in a skin-suit, exploring and expanding our experience in a way that only physical life allows.

Some of us chose to completely forget our greater, spirit selves and to become so utterly immersed in The Game that we remain unaware that there is anything of us beyond the skin.

Others started off that way, but through spiritual, ritual or religious practice over the years, have rediscovered that greater consciousness and have linked back to their spirit selves.  People who are able to do this – mystics, gurus, saints, shamans and the Hay House brigade amongst others – are often revered and followed by those seeking enlightenment.

A third group, and these are the ones who fascinate me in particular, have chosen a third path.  In LIFE: A PLAYER’S GUIDE I called them the Version 2.0 kids, because they appear to be playing this Life Game in an enhanced and updated form.  Many in this – very loose – grouping display, from a human perspective, features that have been labelled as autistic spectrum ‘disorder’ or one of the range of ‘disorders’ and ‘syndromes’ which roughly translate as ‘not like the rest of us’.

The ‘skin-suit only’ brigade work tirelessly to cure or alter the Version 2.0 lot and force them to conform to the skin-suit-enclosed way of perceiving the world.

I’d argue that many of these very specialised humans have arrived on the planet with a far greater awareness of their spiritual origins, and are far less strongly tied to their human existence than those around them.  That’s not to say they are gurus and saints, just that they are exploring the Life experience in very different ways.  They have by-passed the years of meditation practice or other paths to opening up to their greater selves by refusing to become so besotted with the Earthbound experience; they’ve retained a sense of perspective, if you like.

Consciousness Awakening on Vimeo by Ralph Buckley

This would explain why so many so-called ‘disordered’ people have skills and gifts the rest of us don’t.  I once taught a whole class of ‘special needs’ children who were able to communicate telepathically with each other – and eventually with me – although (or maybe because) they had not developed speech and language skills.

Interestingly, a sizeable proportion of these children start to develop spoken language in typical fashion and then stop at around 18 months.  Although devastating for their families, this seems to me to be because they find themselves losing the pre-verbal language they had been using – the one that depends on intuition, telepathic skills and subtle sensory signals the rest of us have largely forgotten.  This language dwells in pictures, thought forms and ideas, and provides a clarity and subtlety no human spoken language can achieve.

English: A little autistic girl.

Our Version 2.0 brethren are not prepared to relinquish their spirit selves as completely as the rest of us have.  They have chosen to explore the Life experience in a new and – to my mind – exciting way, although their path, like everyone else’s, is far from easy or straightforward.

They wear their skin-suits loosely.  They do not need to seek enlightenment because they have never moved fully out of the light.  They are here to test – and perhaps to show us – another way of playing  The Game and one of our challenges is to allow them to be as they are.

In my opinion, this lady has got it right:



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Compliance, defiance and everything between and beyond that

English: Compliance spectrum

English: Compliance spectrum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about the autistic spectrum which generated a fair bit of attention and discussion.  One interesting conversation leading from it concerned whether a diagnosis of this or other ‘disorders’ had more to do with the inability or unwillingness of health and education professionals to move out of their comfort zone and find ways of tolerating and accommodating alternative ways of thinking, interpreting and viewing the world.

Before educators everywhere jump down my throat, let me explain that I’ve been there and done that.  I’m not for a moment suggesting that it’s feasible – still less desirable – to combine all the different ways of being and learning into one mainstream classroom, along with a sizeable group of utterly neurotypical students and fulfil the requirements of a rigorous, top-down, dictatorial education system in which the young people (and staff) are assessed, tested, compared and expected to comply.

“I see that compliance is everything – and he’s only 5!” the mother of a child in kindergarten commented.

I dare to question who that compliance serves: the child, the educators or the policy makers.

Let me tell you the story of Marley:

By the time he entered my class as a 10-year-old, Marley already had quite a reputation around the school.  That’s putting it mildly; he was notorious!

He and I already knew each other quite well, since I’d often found him skulking in corridors as a younger student (“Been slung out for messing about, Miss”) and invited him to join my own class.  When he did this, despite being younger than my own pupils, he’d invariably watch their activity with interest for a few minutes, pluck up courage to proffer a few suggestions and frequently end up taking the lead in moving them to a point beyond their original capabilities.  In fact, my most academically able group would invariably invite him to join them when he entered the room, since they quickly realised what an asset he was.

Ok, so Marley was highly intelligent.  His cognitive abilities stretched way beyond my own, or, I suspect, those of the rest of the school’s staff.  He had a fairly abrasive habit of making this known vociferously if a teacher ever made a mistake.  It takes an educator with the hide of a rhinoceros combined with the humility of a Zen monk to accept a small boy sighing loudly and yelling, “No, you’ve got that completely WRONG!” in the middle of a lesson.  It does little to sustain that fragile control the educator has fought so hard to develop in order to handle the class successfully.  And that’s just at primary school…

Marley was never, during the years I worked with him, diagnosed with a disorder, although  ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) was often mentioned darkly within the staff room and in conversation with visiting educational psychologists.  Nevertheless, he could be highly disruptive and only complied with his teachers’ requests when he felt it was in his interest to do so.

When he joined my class full-time, I worked with him by negotiation.  I would briefly explain the objectives of the activity I had planned for the group and give him the option of following this, or moving into one of the extension projects I had prepared for him.  He usually made sensible choices, enjoying mastering new skills and proficiencies but absenting himself from much of the National Curriculum’s less challenging or enthralling content.  Given the choice, I’d have done the same.

He produced creative writing of a level beyond that of any primary school child I ever encountered, pouring over a thesaurus to extend his vocabulary (I recall a prolonged debate on whether ‘egress’ was a stylistically suitable synonym for ‘door’  in a passage he’d written!) and striving to master use of the semi-colon and paragraphing.  He grasped mathematical, scientific and technological understanding at a phenomenal rate and in standardised reading comprehension tests he was off the scale.

He also made dreadful mistakes, behaving callously and with no thought of the implications of his actions.  The pain and distress he caused on these occasions was immeasurable and our school’s wonderful pastoral care team and I spent many hours raking over his actions with him and encouraging mental ‘re-winding’ to enable him to see how things could have played out differently, had he made more careful and considered choices.  These young people require advice and stewardship as much as any other.

My favourite Marley story, though, comes from when he transferred to secondary school.

An example of an item from a cognitive abiliti...

An example of an item from a cognitive abilities test used in educational psychology. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The new entrants were required, during their first week, to sit a series of CAT tests – multiple choice papers designed to measure cognitive ability.  The new children – still nervous and disoriented at this switch to a far larger school, where they were now the ‘little ones’ – were ushered into the school hall, sat at separated tables in long lines and told to complete the many pages before them within the allotted time.

Marley sat down at his table, picked up the paper and glanced through page one.  He considered for a moment, then began to flick through the rest of the paper.  Without a word, he put down his pen, picked up the test script and began to shred it neatly, until a small pile of torn fragments of paper was left on the table.  He then, quietly, rose from his seat and left the room.

It is to the credit of that secondary school that they persevered with Marley and eventually found ways to engage him in some of the work they offered.  Many other such non-conformers are permanently excluded from our school system.  It simply wasn’t built for them.

Teachers and educators are already severely over-burdened.  The extra work involved in providing something approaching a curriculum more suited to Marley’s needs was ridiculously time-consuming.  I suffered from a fair degree of burnout that year.

In any class, a teacher will encounter several children who learn differently – whether it be with autistic spectrum perception, with the butterfly mind of so-called ADD or ADHD, with cognitive abilities which fall to either side of the norm or with such fascinating abilities as telepathy or other psychic skills – and he or she will still be expected to churn out the desired percentage of ‘average’ students, so that the bell curve of achievement remains as predicted by the experts.

Indigo Child

Indigo Child (Photo credit: wasabicube)

Given the multi-dimensional understanding that is becoming increasingly evident in so many of our Version 2.0 young people, (see Life: A Player’s Guide for details)  I believe we owe it to them to provide the emotional and educational stewardship that will enable them to share their gifts, while taking what they need from the bank of skills and knowledge we have amassed thus far.

If that means a radical rethink of the whole education system; if it means far more flexibility on the part of those in authority; if it means the young people may not strive to become exactly like us (also see this post) or complete standardised tests, as Marley would have commented, with a casual shrug, “Oh well-.”