Positive Talk

Published on: January 4, 2017

All children are different — make learning make sense


When I was a child, school made no sense to me. In fact, I hated it. By the time I was in the eighth grade, my teacher had told my parents that she was promoting me to the ninth grade to get me out of her class, but I certainly would never make it through the ninth grade. I found it very difficult to pay attention in class. I could see no relevance in most of what I was asked to learn. It was dry, and it was boring. When I asked, “Why do I have to?” the answer from my teachers was, “Because I said so.” I was very lucky because I moved to a new school system where there were very progressive teachers who took an interest in me and showed me that I wasn’t stupid — I was just different; I did not respond well to the regimentation of the standard school system

If there are any teachers reading this, you know now, from what has been discovered during the past 20 years, that I was a right-brained student. If you have known students having trouble with schoolwork even though they appear very bright in other areas of their lives, the following suggestions may be helpful.

1. Some students need to know why they have to learn something. How can they use it? How will it benefit them? They do not react well to being told, “You’ll need this information 20 years from now.” I can assure you they will be thinking, even if they don’t say it, “Then I’ll learn it 20 years from now.”

2. This type of student learns best when all their senses are stimulated. To ask them to sit still causes them excruciating pain. It can be both physical and mental torture to them. Do your best when teaching them to bring as many of their senses as possible into play.

3. This type of student does not work well when the attitude of the instructor is overly judgmental. Because they are different from those around them and they recognize this fact, insecurity abounds in their lives. They need a very supportive atmosphere in order to grow and prosper. Remember, being different when you are a child can be a very scary thing.

4. This type of student learns best when they are allowed to work at their own pace. As long as they perceive value in what they are doing, and the instructor can keep the studies exciting and interesting, they will excel.

I would love to see my eighth grade teacher today. I would be delighted if she read a book I had written or attended one of my seminars. That “stupid kid”—as she labeled me—graduated  from college after 10 years of night school. I often wonder how many children’s lives she altered by labeling those who were different as “stupid.” Maybe that’s the most stupid thing of all.

William Hodges is a nationally recognized speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. He also hosts an interview-format television program, Spotlight on Government, on the Tampa Bay Community Network, that airs Mondays at 8 p.m. (Bright House channel 639, Verizon channel 30) and Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. (BH channel 638, Verizon channel 36). The shows can also be viewed at  Phone: 813-641-0816. Email:  Website: