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Monday, January 9, 2023

Temple Grandin on Education Reform

 In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the employment of adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Temple Grandin at NYT:

I often get asked what I would do to improve both elementary and high school. The first step would be to put more of an emphasis on hands-on classes such as art, music, sewing, woodworking, cooking, theater, auto mechanics and welding. I would have hated school if the hands-on classes had been removed, as so many have been today. These classes also expose students — especially neurodivergent students — to skills that could become a career. Exposure is key. Too many students are growing up who have never used a tool. They are completely removed from the world of the practical.

Despite my accomplishments, if I were a young person today, I would have difficulty graduating from high school because I could not pass algebra. It was too abstract, with no visual correlations. This is true for many of today’s students who get labeled as bad at math, students who might otherwise pass alternative math courses such as statistics that would also apply to real-life work situations. There is too much emphasis in school on testing and not enough on career outcomes. The fact that I failed the SAT in math prohibited me from getting into veterinary school, but today I am a university professor in animal sciences and I am invited to speak to groups of veterinarians to advise them on their work. The true measure of an education isn’t what grades a student gets today, but where they are 10 years later.