When is the norm the norm and not the deviation?


Statistically speaking (I never thought I’d say those words), statistically speaking the norm is defined as the average – a standard or model or pattern regarded as typical.

So, why then are the 20 little girls in a class of 25 labeled in need of Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy regarded as abnormal, when it is clear they are the average?

You do not need a degree in statistical analysis to see that clear as day.

It seems to me to be equally clear that the education system is failing my child and using medical aid coverage as an additional income stream.

Let’s say that you have a occupational therapist attached to a school as an external consultant. In order to make her presence financially viable a certain number of children need to require her services. So, schools outsource their problems to her at an enormous cost to the parents who assume teacher knows best.

Discovery Health, my medical aid, is refusing to cover the costs of occupational therapy etc. unless the child is deemed to actually need it due to a serious disability. Not holding your pencil in the correct manner does not count.

“We have identified an increasing trend towards the abuse of certain day-to-day benefits. While these services are often used appropriately for serious clinical conditions, these benefits are increasingly being exploited for services that are not clinically justified. Examples of this are the use of biokineticists as personal trainers, occupational therapy to improve a child’s “pencil grip” and ongoing physiotherapy for stiffness. The long-term impact of such practices is costly and ethically unacceptable.”

I have no doubt there are children in desperate need of OT. However, my child and the 19 others in her class do not. There is nothing wrong with them necessitating professional intervention.

The school’s response was that it is normal to have so many children in a class needed OT and physiotherapy. That it is a result of societal changes e.g. kids don’t ride their bicycles in the street and pressure from parents to design an academic curriculum for 6 year olds. As a result, there is not time to do sport and gym in the school day.

What I see as the root of the problem is classes that are too large, teachers that can’t cope and a curriculum designed for a year ahead.

One prep school head made a huge difference in the life of my oldest son when he said stop all of it and let him be a kid. They all normalize at about 12 years old. Damn right.

Some old school friends and I had a chat about our school days on the weekend. If we were in Grade 0 now we’d all be on Ritalin and spend more time in therapy than in class.

And you know what?

There’s bugger all wrong with us.

Then again my Grade 0 day went like this:

  • Colouring in
  • Ring time with a song and a piece of Bovril toast
  • Bicycle riding
  • Nap
  • Climbing on the jungle gym
  • Lunch
  • Blowing bubbles in washing up liquid and making soap pictures
  • Nap
  • Home

It totally rocked.

My daughter’s Grade 0 is the equivalent of my Grade 2. Evolution aside, they aren’t any more geniuses than we were. I think we were better adjusted, healthier and happier kids and we grew into capable, successful and pretty fantastic adults.

We didn’t get hooked on cocaine derivative drugs at the age of 6.

We didn’t even know what an OT was.

School was fun.

Learning was an adventure.

That is the way it should be.



3 thoughts on “When is the norm the norm and not the deviation?

  1. Learning should be fun and as you said an adventure! I had an art teacher in 9th grade that totally deterred me from art because I was not doing art his way – hello – huh?!? Have a Great Day:)

  2. I think so many parents want to fast track their kids or push them into structured activities to “keep up with the Joneses.” Sally next door is in Brownies? Well, my Jane can’t be left behind!! Sign her up! Phoebe is taking ballet AND tap? Sign Jane up too!!! Yaddayaddayadda…
    This doesn’t even begin to touch the actual school stuff. That is just madness.
    We need to let our kids enjoy being young while they can. They’re all going to end up with serious mental issues like anxiety and depression if they are constantly being pushed to succeed and win instead of allowing them to make their own way. They are KIDS!!!
    Great post! Something really needs to change.

  3. Hello, Blurred Line,

    I think I must have read something along this topic, about the gifted-child era and such? The write up says that at the present, upper class and middle middle class are so obsessed about “educating” their children that it somehow consumes the household. Something like that… Hello and regards! 🙂

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