Ian and Elizabeth discuss humanism

vitruviussmall

 

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 learning RPM

First I should say a few words about the Rapid Prompting Method. It was developed by Soma Mukhopadhyay, (see her website here) the mother of an autistic boy. It is based on using a letter board that the student uses to spell out the words he wants to say. The rapid prompting part is that the teacher prompts the student to quickly find the next letter by touch, or voice, or nudge, or noise, or whatever stimulus she has found that the student reacts to. The idea is to establish a rhythm that keeps the communication flow going, and definitely not to do the pointing for the student. Another aspect of the method is that the pointing practice is done with challenging academic material rather than mindless spelling exercises. Therefore in her work with Ian, the teacher Elizabeth (see her website here) uses topics like  “Confucianism”, “photography”, “astronomy”, “humanism”,  “Emily Dickinson”, etc. She gives a brief introduction to the topic and then asks Ian questions about it. The following is an example from the session on Confucianism:

…Confucius taught anyone who was eager to learn. His ideas, called Confucianism, stress the need to develop responsibility and moral character through rigid rules of behavior.

How was Confucius different as an educator? HE TAUGHT ANYONE WHO WANTED TO LEARN

What were the principles of Confucianism? STRICT RULES OF BEHAVIOR

Confucianism is not, properly speaking, a religion; it’s a way of behaving, so you’ll do the right things.

How does philosophy differ from religion? SECULAR VERSUS RELIGIOUS

The most important things to Confucius were peace and order. Why do you think peace and order are important for a society? FOR SOCIETY TO WORK PEOPLE OR GROUPS NEED TO GET ALONG

What is your role in society? MY ROLE IS TO TEACH OTHERS ABOUT AUTISM ESPECIALLY NONVERBAL PEOPLE…..