The Dumb Class – Dorina Desjardins
This is a book about how the act of labelling a child and sending them to special education classes can result in difficulties across their lives. I kind of got the impression that you’re meant to think that the problem is special education – I don’t agree with that. If so much of society didn’t have a negative view of the special education system, or perhaps if there were greater flexibility within the education system then these things wouldn’t happen.
The book is unfortunately plagued by many of the issues you see resulting from the influx of amateur authors, including spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and weirdly placed and irrelevant clipart (there’s a smiling tree for example). For me, this makes it very difficult to engage with a book because I can’t help noticing the errors.
The story follows Joey via an introduction to his life, his friends, and his family. A very quick portrayal of Joey as an active and happy little boy is then followed by what I found a very bizarre parent-teacher meeting:
Joey’s parents were surprised by the sight of Mrs. Millman. Mrs.Millman’s eyes were moist and red; she wrung her hands together tightly. She looked very sad.
This reaction is because Joey has been having difficulty in class and is going to be transferred to the “underachieving class”. This is such a bizarre series of events – firstly a teacher crying to parents, followed by the calling of the class the “underachieving class”, and then the teacher has to take a conveniently placed phone call so that the parents can talk. I really hope that it doesn’t actually happen like that and it was creative licensing…
So Joey goes to the “Dumb class” and of course the special education teacher shouts at Joey because he’s under pressure and overwhelmed. Then there follows the tale of Joey losing all his confidence and becoming ill, and children mocking and bullying him unrelentingly with no opposition from the teachers.
Things only take a more positive spin when Grandad comes to visit. Which means we get the age old inclusion of Einstein and the reeling off of all his difficulties to make Joey feel better. I was thinking about this the other day and I wondered just how many disorders Einstein has been post-humously diagnosed with by lay people- everyone seems to want him in their disorder! I’ve seen him arm-chair diagnosed with autism, ADHD, dyslexia and speech and language difficulties. So then were left with the general message that teachers don’t know anything because of these examples of people in school many years ago, and then overall impression that special education is not a good thing.
Not really – I suppose you might decide that a child could benefit from the self-esteem boost but it’s not the best way to do it.
Value for money?
On Kindle Unlimited so perhaps worth a glimpse if you have it – however it’s over £6 for both the regular Kindle and paperback edition – which are absolutely not worth the money.