Ian and Elizabeth discuss humanism

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Although this blog is intended to promote Iris Johansson’s book A different childhood, I am again posting a transcript of Ian’s lessons with RPM instead because I want to spread the word about this wonderful  teaching method to everyone who has loved ones with autism. You and see more transcripts on my blog www.adifferentchildhood.com, as well as more information about the book, including reading a chapter from it. Here is the transcript of Ian’s lesson on Humanism. Elizabeth, the teacher is in italics, Ian in CAPS

Humanism refers to any philosophical, moral, political, artistic or scientific system with a human, not religious, frame of reference.  In humanism, some believe that the ideals of human existence can be fulfilled without regard to religion. The Humanist Manifesto of 1933 took the position that the universe was “self-created;” that mankind was a part of nature.  A manifesto is a written or verbal declaration of intentions, motives or views of the author.

  • Name two systems that humanism refers to. ART AND SCIENCE
  • What did the humanists believe?  BELIEVES SCIENCE NOT GOD DEFINES MAN
  • Why would a manifesto be helpful to talk about a controversial topic? ALLOWS A TOPIC TO BE CLEARLY DEFINED

Renaissance humanism refers to a revival of classical literature and philosophy that began at the end of the Middle Ages, or middle of the 14th century.  Renaissance humanism features several important intellectual figures, including Nicolaus Copernicus and Leonardo daVinci. Nicolaus Copernicus was a mathematician, economist and astronomer who declared that the earth orbited around the sun.  Though Copernicus wrote “On the Revolutions of the Celestial Sphere” several decades earlier, it was not published until his death in 1543 as his theory was in direct conflict with teachings of the Catholic Church.  Leonardo daVinci worked as an artist, musician, architect, inventor, engineer, anatomist and geometer.  In his drawing Vitruvian Man, daVinci superimposed two views of a nude man in a circle to illustrate mathematical proportions of the human body as described by Roman architect Vitruvius.  Vitruvian Man was said to reconcile the main two parts of our being; the physical and the intellectual.

  • What period of time does the 14th century refer to? 1500s (Ian used the number board to respond to this question)
  • Tell me one thing you learned about Copernicus.  HE HAD TROUBLE WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
  • What was one of Leonardo daVinici’s occupations? PAINTER…..what is his famous painting?…MONA LISA
  • What was significant about the Vitruvian Man?  BLENDED BODY AND MIND
  • I showed Ian the picture (below) of the Vitruvian man and asked, “what impresses you about this picture?”….SYMMETRY OF THE BODY

The difference between humanist and religious theories are their understanding of what constitutes truth. The humanist regards truth as something constantly evolving.  Religious theory identifies a static, unchanging revelation from God as truth. A humanist is generally skeptical and open minded.  Religious theorists are often unwavering and live according to theological dogma.  Dogma is a principle or set of principles provided by any authority as incontrovertibly true.

  • What is the difference between humanism and religious theorists?  HUMANISTS DEFINE TRUTH VIA SCIENCE, RELIGIONISTS DEFINE TRUTH VIA GOD
  • Now that we have talked about both sides of the spectrum – where do you fall in terms of humanism and religious theory?  I CAN SEE MERIT IN BOTH SIDES

Creative Writing: The basic difference between humanism and religious theories is weather something can change or evolve over time.  In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue to prove that the world was not flat.  In 1543, Copernicus declared that the earth revolved around the sun; the planets did not revolve around our round world.  Each declaration required education, hypotheses, experiment and declaration to be introduced to an apprehensive audience.  

  1. Define a topic that you know a lot about.  
  2. Do you have a hypothesis or “new take” on that topic?  
  3. Given the chance, how would you research or experiment to determine if your hypothesis is correct?  
  4. In the event that your experiment yields proof of a breakthrough or new perspective, can you think of an audience that would be apprehensive about your findings? 

I BELIEVE THAT PEOPLE WITH AUTISM ARE ACTUALLY VERY SMART.  I WOULD PROVE THIS BY ALLOWING AUTISTICS IN THE REGULAR CLASSROOM.  I WOULD LET THEM JUST SIT THERE AND LEARN.  PEOPLE WOULD BE SHOCKED BY HOW MUCH THEY ALREADY KNOW.  I WOULD EXPECT TO UPSET THE WHOLE AUTISM COMMUNITY AND THE EDUCATION COMMUNITY WOULD FREAK OUT.  I WOULD NOT BE DETERRED BY THEIR LACK OF ACCEPTANCE.

Ok, Ian, now you need to create a manifesto to go along with your findings.  Be sure to name your manifesto!

EDUCATION FOR AUTISTICS

AUTISTICS ARE SMART

AUTISTICS DESERVE CHALLENGING EDUCATION

AUTISTICS FEEL EVERYTHING

 

 

 

 

Ian communicating about happiness with Elizabeth, using RPM

This is another transcript from one of Ian’s RPM lesson with Elisabeth Vosseller. She is doing such amazing work with the RPM technique and it has opened up a such an unimaginable world for Ian and his family. Go to her website www.growingkidstherapy.com to learn more about the wonderful work she is doing with this amazing teaching method.
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We opened up the lesson by listening to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams and having a little dance party.Who is this song by? PHARRELL WILLIAMS
Do you know what movie it is from? DESPICABLE MEHere are some quotes on happiness. What do these quotes mean to you? 

“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
YOU CAN CHOOSE HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT LIFE, UNHAPPY OR JOYFUL, FEARFUL OR BRAVE, VIOLENT OR PEACEFUL, OR ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO BE.

Who was Abraham Lincoln? PRESIDENT WHO FREED THE SLAVES

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Mahatma Gandhi
MY HAPPINESS IS LOVING MY LIFE PARTICULARLY WHEN IT IS AS BEAUTIFUL AS IT IS RIGHT NOW.

Who was Gandhi? INDIAN MAN OF PEACE

“The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” Benjamin Franklin 
FOR YOU TO BE HAPPY, YOU HAVE TO WORK FOR IT.

Who was Benjamin Franklin? AMERICAN STATESMAN

“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.” Helen Keller
BEING AUTISTIC DOES NOT LIMIT MY HAPPINESS. I SIMPLY EXPERIENCE HAPPINESS HAV ING A BEAUTIFUL FAMILY WHO LOVES ME.

Who was Helen Keller? A BLIND AND DEAF WOMAN
Creative Writing: What is your philosophy of happiness? Create a “User’s Guide to Happiness!” Be sure to state your definition of happiness and how one might achieve and sustain happiness! 

MY GUIDE TO HAPPINESS

HAPPINESS IS HAVING THE LIGHT OF LOVE SHINING AND BEING ABLE TO SEE IT. ABLE NOT TO SEE WHAT YOU ARE NOT AND PUTTING YOURSELF IN SOMEONE’S LIFE. AVOID COMPARING YOUR LIFE TO SOMEONE ELSE’S LIFE. THIS IS HOW WE CAN ACHIEVE HAPPINESS. THE MORAL OF THIS STORY IS TO ENJOY THE LIFE YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN.

Ian’s and Elizabeth’s RPM session discussing books

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*I started the lesson with a little bit of history on the Middle Ages for some perspective. 

What event marks the beginning of the Middle Ages? FALL OF GREEK AND ROMAN EMPIRE

The Middle Ages saw the beginnings of a rebirth in literature. Early medieval books were painstakingly hand-copied and illustrated by monks. Paper was a rarity, with vellum, made from calf’s skin, and parchment, made from lamb’s skin, were the media of choice for writing. Students learning to write used wooden tablets covered in green or black wax. The greatest number of books during this era were bound with plain wooden boards, or with simple tooled leather for more expensive volumes.

How were books produced in the Middle Ages?  HANDWRITTEN BY MONKS

Tell me one thing they wrote on.  VELLUM…..what it vellum made from?….CALF SKIN

What did students write on?  WAX TABLETS

What do you write on? PAPER

How do you experience handwriting?  IT IS HARD FOR ME BECAUSE I CANNOT RELIABLY USE MY HANDS.

Wandering scholars and poets traveling to the Crusades learned of new writing styles. Courtly Love spawned a new interest in romantic prose. Troubadours sang in medieval courtyards about epic battles involving Roland, Arthur, and Charlemagne. Literature exploded from the universities as scholars began to question convention and write social commentary, as well as poetic fiction.

How did the Crusades influence literature in the Middle Ages?  EXPOSURE TO NEW PEOPLE AND PLAE IMPROVED CONTENT FOR WRITING

Language saw further development during the Middle Ages. Capital and lowercase letters were developed with rules for each. Books were treasures, rarely shown openly in a library, but rather, kept safely under lock and key. Finding someone who might loan you a book was a true friend. Some might rent out their books, while others, desperate for cash, might turn to the book as a valuable item to be pawned.

How did language evolve in the Middle Ages? UPPER AND LOWER CASE LETTERS WERE USED.

Why did people in the Middle Ages treasure books?  BECAUSE THEY WERE SO HARD TO MAKE

Do you think people still treasure books?  SOME PEOPLE DO, OTHERS DO NOT

How about you?  Do you treasure books?  I LOVE BOOKS BUT CANNOT READ THEM ON MY OWN BECAUSE MY EYES CAN’T TRACK THE LETTERS ACROSS THE PAGE.

Ian, would it surprise you if I told you that I have done this lesson with several other nonspeaking kids and 100% of them have told me the exact same thing – that they love books but can’t read independently because they can’t track the letters?  NO, I AM NOT SURPRISED BECAUSE I THINK WE ARE SIMILAR LIKE THAT.

I talked with Ian about audible books that he can listen to on his iPod or iPad (or other devices) that would allow him to listen to books so he can read independently.  I asked, “would you be interested in that?”  ENORMOUSLY

Ok, let’s talk about what genres interest you.  Before we do, can you tell me what genre means?  KIND

POETRY….any poets in particular?…..FROST, WHITMAN, HUGHES…..ok, I have a Hughes in mind, but just to be sure, can you tell me a first name?  LANGSTON….do any particular types of poetry appeal to you?  ALMOST ANYTHING EXCEPT ROMANCE

HISTORICAL FICTION….in particular?….FIRST I WOULD PREFER TO READ ABOUT SLAVERY BUT I ALSO WANT TO READ ABOUT PEOPLE WITH AUTISM

Anything else?  LIFE IS GOING TO BE SO DIFFERENT NOW.