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 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 and Elizabeth discuss Emily Dickinson

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Ian continues to astonish us with his incredible knowledge.  Here are his thoughts on Emily Dickinson and poetry!

*I read the poem to Ian in it’s entirety  ONCE, and then asked him questions.  Ian, we are going to read a poem by Emily Dickinson.  Before I read it to you, do you know anything about Emily Dickinson?  SHE WAS A RECLUSE

I started out with some biographical  information about Dickinson.  I talked about the fact the she corresponded with friends and asked what correspondence means…..WRITING LETTERS…..I asked him if he was interested in correspondence…YES…..who would you like to correspond with?…..OTHER KIDS WHO USE RPM

A Bird came down the Walk

by Emily Dickinson

A Bird came down the Walk/He did not know I saw/He bit an Angleworm in halves/And ate the fellow, raw,

And then he drank a Dew/From a convenient Grass/And then hopped sidewise to the Wall/To let a Beetle pass—

He glanced with rapid eyes/That hurried all around/They looked like frightened Beads, I thought/He stirred his Velvet Head

Like one in danger, Cautious,/I offered him a Crumb/And he unrolled his feathers/And rowed him softer home/Than Oars divide the Ocean,

Too silver for a seam/Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon/Leap, splashless as they swim.

  1. What is your impression of this poem?  I LIKE IT A LOT….why?….IT MADE ME THINK OF NATURE AND HOW FRAGILE IT IS
  2.  A point of view is the way an author lets a reader “see” or “hear” what is happening.  What point of view does Dickinson give the reader? OBSERVER
  3. If you were with Emily Dickinson when she was observing this bird, what would you want to tell her.    I WOULD TELL HER NOT TO BE SAD THAT THE BIRD FLEW AWAY
  4. What message does this poem tell us about nature? THAT MAN CAN NOT CONTROL NATURE
  5. What emotion would you assign to this poem?  I WOULD BUST OUT IN TEARS IF THIS HAPPENED TO ME….why?…BECAUSE IT WOULD MAKE ME SAD

Ian, poets are very precise in their use of language.  Let’s work on precision.  Give me one word to describe 

Give me one word to describe  Emily Dickinson….LONELY

Give me one word to describe  Dad…STRONG

Give me one word to describe  Karl(brother)…FUNNY

Give me one word to describe  Mom…UNWAVERING

Give me one word to describe  Deborah…TALKATIVE

Give me one word to describe  Yourself…CONTEMPLATIVE

Give me one word to describe  the process of learning RPM….TRANSFORMATIVE

Ian, I do believe that you are quite contemplative and a keen observer.  Tell me what you have observed and how it might inspire your poetry.

I AM FASCINATED BY NATURE AND HOW THE WORLD WORKS.  I LIKE TO KNOW EVERYTHING.

Tell me some random things that you wonder about:

  • FACES OF PEOPLE
  • WHY GOD MADE WORMS
  • HOW UNUSUAL PEOPLE LIKE ME IN THIS WORLD FIT IN

 

Elizabeth and Ian discuss Damon and Pythias

(Ian’s words are in CAPS)

According to the Greek story, Damon and Pythias grew up in Sicily, and they were always best friends. One day when the two of them were visiting the city of Syracuse Pythias made some remarks that were considered to be insults to the king of Syracuse, and the king got very angry. The king had Pythias arrested and sentenced him to death.

What country is this story from?  GREEK

What is it a story about?  FRIENDSHIP

Where did Damon and Pythias go?  SYRACUSE

What happened while the friends were in Syracuse?  KING OF SYRACUSE WAS INSULTED AND SENTENCED PYTHES TO DEATH  (I pointed out the correct spelling -Pythias- to Ian.  This was a great phonetic attempt of such a hard name!)

What does ins ult mean? NOT NICE WORDS

How does an insult make someone feel? ANGRY

What do you think of the King’s reaction to Pythias’ insult?  A LITTLE EXTREME

What do you think would be an appropriate punishment?  NO DESERVE DEATH….

what punishment would you give instead?….TIME OUT (love it!)

Pythias said, “Couldn’t I just go home and tell my  family what happened and say goodbye?” But the king said, “Why should I trust that you would come back to face your punishment?” Damon said, “I will stay with you while Pythias goes home to say goodbye. If he doesn’t come back, I will accept his punishment.” The king couldn’t believe anyone would trust their friend so much. But he agreed to let Pythias go. He was supposed to be back in one month. If he wasn’t back by the end of the month, the king would kill Damon instead.

What did the friends feel for each other?  TRUST

What does trust mean? HAVE FAITH

Pythias went home, and said goodbye and set out to return to face his punishment. But on the way back, his ship was attacked by pirates. Pythias tried to explain to the pirates, but they just threw him overboard. Pythias swam to shore, but then he didn’t have any money or a horse or any way of getting back to Damon. He was so worried that Damon would be killed! He started to run as fast as he could towards the king’s palace.

What happened on Pythias’ return to Syracuse? ON WAY BACK WAS KIDNAPPED BY PIRATES

Why was he worried? DID NOT WANT DAMON TO DIE

Meanwhile the king was telling Damon, “See! Pythias has abandoned you. I told you he’d never come back.” But Damon knew his friend would never leave him to be killed. Damon knew Pythias would not abandon him. On the last day, the king had Damon tied up and took him outside into the courtyard of the palace to be killed. But Damon was still not worried. He knew Pythias would come. And sure enough, just as Damon was about to be killed, Pythias came running in. He was filthy dirty and his clothes were all in rags from swimming in the ocean. And he had lost his shoes and had to run barefoot the whole way. But he was so happy to have come on time! He cried out, “See! I have come back. Let Damon go! I am ready to take his place now.” 

How do you think Damon felt when Pythias returned? RELIEVED

How do you think the king felt?  SHOCKED

What do you think happened next? KING KILLED PYTHIAS

But the king was so impressed by this great friendship that he did not kill Pythias after all. Instead, he kept both the friends at his court so they could give him good advice.

Why did the king keep Damon and Pythias as advisors?  HE WAS IMPRESSED

Let’s talk about friendship.  What does friendship mean to you? Describe your ideal friend.

FRIENDSHIP DOES NOT EXIST FOR ME.  I WANT FRIENDS AND SOMEONE TO HANG OUT WITH BUT NOT SURE HOW TO DO IT.

what would you like to do with a friend?  LISTEN TO MUSIC.

Why do you think it has been tricky for you to make a friend?  BECAUSE I CANNOT TALK.

 

 

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…..