Special Education Today newsletter 1(36)
What was happening last week?
Dear dear readers,
Here you have the weak weekly newsletter for Special Education Today. If you found this in your inbox somewhat unexpectedly, perhaps because someone forwarded it to you, please click the button at the end of this paragraph to start your own free e-mail subscription. If you no longer want to get the newsletters—and, oh how I hope you still want to receive them—you will find an “unsubscribe” link at the end.
In this, the 36th issue of the first volume-year of SET, you will see familiar content. As usual, it provides a brief status report for the site and the newsletter, acknowledges readers who interacted with the content, refers to articles published on the Web site the previous week, and contains some commentary at the end. The organization should sound familiar to regular readers!
The number of e-mail subscribers continues to increase, now approaching 370. During the past week, there was a brief burst of new subs and, as I recall, one unsub. Over the last 30 days, the site has had more than new 1000 visitors.
Whatever growth there is, it’s thanks to you, dear readers. I sometimes drop a Tweet on Twitter, but growth is the result of “word-of-mouth” (text-of-device?) efforts to let others know about SET. Thank you for the support.
Recommend SET! Parents, please tell your friends. Professionals, please share with parents, colleagues, and students for whom you think the posts might be of interest. I’ll write the content and hope that that content is attractive enough that folks decide to subscribe!
Flashes of the electrons
This week my recognition of folx who interacted with the content on SET is likely to be even more slipshod than my usual efforts. I’m traveling and I do not have access to my frequently used methods for monitoring interactions. I apologize to those whose interactions I overlooked, but I’ll drop a probably incomplete list of pals who interacted with the magazine since the previous issue by either liking posts or commenting on them (or both). Thanks to everyone!
And all those whom I missed.
And, here’s a different sort of shout out: I want to acknowledge frequent offenders, readers who have wasted lots of their lives viewing posts. Thanks to these folks in the following categories:
50 or greater views by Betsy T. & Ed M.
100 or greater views by Clay K., Michael K., & Tina C.
150 or greater views by Jane B.
There will be one more acknowledgment; see the commentary.
And This Week’s ToC
This was the week with the most posts for any one week over the first nine months of SET’s existence. Here’s a list in FIFO order:
Descriptions and explanations—When does simply characterizing an event count as explaining why the event happened?
Considering intersectionality wrt disability—What if some students (and adults) with disabilities get a worse shake not solely because of their disability?
Costs associated with RPM and DIRFloortime—What are the financial and temporal costs of interventions?
Friday Photos—PCRC snaps 1—It’s Bill Therrien and Steve Graham!
Friday Photos—PCRC snaps 2—It’s David Chard, some stiff, and Sharon Vaughn!
Friday Photos—PCRC snaps 3—It’s Bill (again!) and Kristin Sayeski
Friday Photos—PCRC snaps 4—Bill (yet again!) with Erica Lemke!
Friday Photos—PCRC snaps 5—This one’s Michael and Michael!
Friday Photos—PCRC snaps 6—It’s Sarah Powell!
Friday Photos—PCRC snaps 7—Can you believe that is Mike Coyne!
Friday Photos—PCRC snaps 8—It’s Gary Troia!
Special thanks to those folks who helped by taking some of the photos that appeared in the Friday Photos set from PCRC.
Some may have noted that Friday spilled into Saturday and Sunday this past week! True. It was a long weekend!
I received a back-channel message from Joel M., my long-time colleague and long-time pal whom I admire greatly. He’s a consistent reader of SET and sends me sage comments regularly. He wrote to me about an article he’d read and in which he saw an analogy to what some of we special educators’ experience in our efforts to promote evidence-based practice.
I’ll start here with a few snippets from the article to which (I’m glad) Joel referred me. I’m drawing from “The Bad Ideas Our Brains Can’t Shake: Why it's so hard to process new COVID information” by Charlie Warzel that appeared in The Atlantic 14 February 2022.
Mr. Warzel explained that sometimes misinformation that is encountered early in one’s experience of information about a topic often becomes so substantially connected to other ideas that it is very hard to shake…to unlearn.
So, let’s suppose I get the idea that X is connected to Y early in my experience of concepts X and Y. “Oh, mirror writing is a sign of dyslexia!” Those connections will be hard to unlearn later. One reason is that connections expand because of previously known connections between X and other factors (d, f, h, and etc.) and Y and other factors (g, h, m, and others). Once connected with those other ideas, those connections build other connections. We humans are so devoted to seeing connections that we find them quickly and latch onto them strongly.
In addition, social forces operate on the persistence of associations. If, as Mr. Warzel noted, one is among others (peers) who share your initial learning and their behaviors correspond with yours, you can take support from them. “My pals aren’t wearing masks, so why should I?”
There are many other factors, one of which is that once misinformation begins to circulate as accurate, that makes it more difficult to dislodge; it keeps getting shared and other people who don’t know about the evidence refuting it may still resonate to the falsehoods. If the misinformation resonates with them, they will continue to circulate it…and we have a new outbreak of the falsehoods.
Case in point: Consider the misinformation propagated by analyses of the Wakefield report about the relationship between vaccination and autism. It’s eventually perpetuated by people with social media currency (entertainment personalities) and echoes out even farther.
Another example (lightly edited), provided by Joel:
One of my frustrations [has been] the difficulty in getting teachers to implement ‘scientifically based,’ … instructional practices … in something as simple as the persistent use of modality based instruction…. Why have we not been able to change teacher behaviors as they continue to approach kids as visual, auditory. etc. learners?
It is sometimes, as Joel intimated (and Warzel argued), difficult to overcome the misinformation with research evidence. Once an idea is instantiated, challenges to it can be rationalized, even when faced with rational challenges.
Warzel argued that misperceptions about the way science works and its results or outcomes form a problem for those of us who hope to promote employing of scientific evidence in decisions.
Most of us are not used to seeing the sometimes messy, iterative form of science, where hypotheses are tested, refuted, retested, and eventually confirmed. We’re used to that process happening outside of our view and then having more definitive, fully formed conclusions presented to us.
So, perhaps we need to explain (correctly) that science is not a set of facts, but rather a process of asking and answering questions, and then asking and answering additional questions.
Asking questions and examining answers according to scientific processes provides guidance, not definitive solutions. Could it be that building an appreciation of that process will help educators to resist bologna? I think it’s a long shot, but a plan worth pursuing anyway.
I don’t think I’ve thoroughly addressed Joel’s ideas here, but I hope I’ve helped advance conversation about them. And I appreciate his raising these issues. They’re important. We should talk!
Now, some academic colleagues may find my presentations wanting. I have have mis- or ill-represented some of the ideas I cover in the posts. I hope that they will provide thoughtful, grounded corrections and amplications of the posts.
I also, especially, hope that parents and teachers will learn about the scientific underpinnings of special education. If the presentations are not clear, please help me clarify what I’m communicating. Tell me what you find confusing!
Meanwhile, please remember to take appropriate actions to thwart the spread of COVID, to protect yourselves (and your loved ones) when traveling, and to employ effective teaching practices. That is, stay safe, wear your seatbelts, and teach your children well!
SET Editor guy
SET should not be confused with a product with the same name that is published by the Council for Exceptional Children. SET predated CEC’s publication by decades. Nor should it be confused with a blog maintained by a law firm known as KCS, LLP. Despite my appreciation for CEC and admiration for advocacy companies, this product is not designed to promote either organization.