Mr. Daniels introduces a new social studies unit on famous people. He stands up photos at the front of the room and says he'll give out names, but the class has to say why those people are famous. The people include Thomas Edison, George Washington, Henry Ford, and Albert Einstein. Albert talks about Einstein and says that he's named after Einstein. They go through more people and then Mr. Daniels asks if the class would call any of those people stupid. Mr. Daniels says that Einstein was kicked out of school and couldn't tie his shoes. Ally remembers how she also struggled to tie her shoes.
With this lesson, Mr. Daniels shows that he recognizes that his class has undergone a seismic shift: where once Shay might have co-opted this lesson and turned it into an excuse to make fun of Ally and Oliver, he knows that with Shay currently on the outs, the class is ready to hear that they're all special and thinking differently isn't a bad thing. In this way, the novel ties a lack of bullying to being able to actually learn.
Mr. Daniels talks about some of the other people's contributions to the world and then says that most of these people are believed to have dyslexia. He says that their minds just work differently; they weren't stupid. Mr. Daniels writes a jumble of letters on the board and says it's an extra credit assignment. It's a code, and anyone who can crack the code will begin to understand how hard it is to read with dyslexia.
The fact that all of these people had dyslexia (as opposed to other learning, behavior, or physical disabilities) makes this lesson mostly about trying to make Ally's struggles real for the class, given that Mr. Daniels is certainly aware that the class knows Ally struggles to read.
As the bell rings, Ally stays seated, looking at the pictures. She wonders if those people believed they were stupid. Mr. Daniels kneels in front of her and asks if she's okay, and Ally asks him to confirm that they all had dyslexia. He gives her a paperweight inscribed with "Never, never, never quit. Winston Churchill" on it. Mr. Daniels says it's not a reminder to not give up; it's to tell her that he's noticed that she's working hard and that she's going to be okay.
Mr. Daniels shows that he understands that for Ally, working hard is something she's more than willing to do—what's more important for her is to know that she's seen and appreciated. This shows that he recognizes that just learning to read is not even half the battle; social success is sometimes more important.