A dyslexic student recalls his struggles with reading and writing. In particular, he recalls teachers’ mocking remarks, as he was often called lazy or stupid for reading too slowly. When he was finally diagnosed with dyslexia, he was able to attend a school for dyslexic children, where he found comfort in the presence of other children like him. He felt that he could finally learn at his own pace.
This student’s experience of humiliation suggests that many educators are more interested in punishing low-performing students than in finding ways to adapt the learning process to their pace. It demonstrates the rigidity of a traditional school system, in which students can feel isolated and judged instead of supported and cared for.
When he returned to high school after one year, he joined the baseball team and realized that the same children who used to mock him were now cheering him on. On his first day of school, in Ms. Gruwell’s class, he feels that this new teacher understands and listens to him, even succeeding in making reading seem fun. She encourages him in his pursuit of sports, explaining that many dyslexic people compensate for being laughed at in school by performing well in athletics. Now, the student feels that he can succeed in both sports and academics.
This student realizes that success and self-confidence do not need to express themselves only in the classroom, but can be apparent in sports. Despite being an English teacher, Ms. Gruwell encourages her students to find their strengths in any passionate endeavor, as this can lead them to become better human beings and students. Her patience and commitment to this student’s learning demonstrates her willingness to adapt to her student’s individual needs.