Different is Good. Stay Different.
Sand Hill is a school for kids with who learn differently. But, the fact is, all of us learn differently from one another. Most Sand Hill students have a diagnosis of dyslexia. As you may know, dyslexia is a different brain organization that needs different teaching methods. At Sand Hill, we also teach our kids to be aware that their brain works differently—and to appreciate that.
Cerebrodiversity is the idea that no two brains are alike and we all learn differently. Gordon Sherman, PhD, coined the term to refer to our ‘neural heterogeneity’ and ‘brain variations.’ Sherman asserts that each of our brains is unique (much like our fingerprints) and that each of us processes information differently. The way that we process information can present advantages or disadvantages for each person. (Bridging the Chasm: Dyslexia Scholar Applies Research to Benefit Diverse Learners, August 18, 2015). For example, a person with dyslexia processes language differently, and therefore needs to learn to read in a different way, but that brain variation in people with dyslexia is also an advantage. People with dyslexia can have strengths in visual thinking and this ability to think in pictures allows them to be great problem solvers.
Dyslexic minds are amazing minds. The difference in the way the dyslexic mind processes brings with it an ability to think ‘outside the box’ and see the ‘big picture.’
Many successful and famous inventors, entrepreneurs, artists and writers have benefited from the gift of this mind that thinks differently—including Ann Bancroft, Nelson Rockefeller, Charles Schwab, Whoopie Goldberg, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, and Agatha Christie—just to name a few.
So, at Sand Hill it is not our goal to change our students or fix our students. Instead it is our goal to help them realize that everyone has challenges and strengths and to appreciate their own. Their challenges exist in a ‘sea of strengths’ (Sally Shaywitz, Overcoming Dyslexia). We want to help them recognize brain differences exist—no two minds are alike and we want them to recognize and appreciate their strengths. At Sand Hill, we celebrate the fact that we all learn differently. Different is good. Stay different.