Structured learning didn’t serve me particularly well. I was kicked out of kindergarten for running away too many times, and I have the questionable distinction of having plunged out of two undergraduate programs and a doctoral business and administration program. I haven’t been tested, but have come to think of myself as “neuroatypical” in some way.
“Neurotypical” is a term used by the autism community to describe what society refers to as “normal.” According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in 59 babes, and one in 34 sons, are on the autism spectrum–in other words, neuroatypical. That’s 3 percent of the male population. If you compute ADHD–attention deficit hyperactivity disorder–and dyslexia, approximately one out of four parties are not “neurotypicals.”
In NeuroTribes, Steve Silberman chronicles its own history of such non-neurotypical surroundings, including autism, which was described by the Viennese doctor Hans Asperger and Leo Kanner in Baltimore in the 1930 s and 1940 s. Asperger toiled in Nazi-occupied Vienna, which was actively euthanizing institutionalized juveniles, and he characterized a broad spectrum of children who were socially awkward. Others had fantastic abilities and a “fascination with rules, laws and schedules, ” to use Silberman’s paroles. Leo Kanner, on the other hand, described juveniles who were more incapacitated. Kanner’s suggestion that the condition was activated by bad parenting made autism a source of stigma for parents and led to decades of work attempting to “cure” autism rather than developing natures for houses, the educational system, and society to adapt to it.
Our institutions including with regard to have flunked such neurodiverse students, in part because they’ve been designed to prepare our children for ordinary jobs in a mass-production-based white- and blue-collar environment created by the Industrial Revolution. Students acquire a standardized skillset and an obedient, planned, and reliable mood that served society well in the past–but not so much today. I is hypothesized that the part of the population who are diagnosed as somehow non-neurotypical struggle with the structure and the method of modern education, and many others probably do as well.