The other day I talked to a potential student who has failed in several schools despite his obvious intelligence. He worried that we would try to turn him into someone he was not. I thought a lot about his comment. We say we are Just Right, but obviously there are some behaviors that cannot be allowed, either at our school or in society. How do I help him understand that?
Inside this fearful, angry child is an amazing, intelligent human. But he has developed habits that prevent his real self from being seen. Rude comments and constant interruptions hide his thoughtful ideas, keen intelligence and love of animals. Being a computer expert is who he really is. Being kind to younger children is who he is. Antisocial behaviors are like torn clothing that keep people from seeing the royalty underneath. The same is true for those with academic problems. Our society uses reading as an intelligence test and those who struggle are seen as less bright, even though that is often not true.
Our mission as a school is to guide students toward their true selves and to help them present that self to the world. Teaching social skills and helping students learn to function in different and difficult situations do not make them into something they are not, but allow who they really are to shine through. Teaching them to read and write and spell is not changing them, but giving them a skill that will allow them to use their unique gifts for good things.