#8: One Week – Refining Pitch and Purpose

As I said before, I’m seeking opportunities; mainly opportunities to improve education for all.

My audience is public schools, I want to show both educators and students how to help someone on the spectrum.

On a scale from 1-10 on how passionate I am about my topic, I’m about a 7. I am quite interested, and would love to make a change, but if I find something else that interests me, I would be happy to join another group.

 

Here is my improved pitch

 

Look at the people around the room. Everyone here is different, everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, everyone has something to offer and everyone deserves an education to help them reach their full potential. How can school systems with limited funding serve all learners with so many diverse needs?

I feel like I’ve had success in school because it’s set up for learners like me. I think my strengths as a learner tend to be most valued in our school system. But I’ve often wondered how education might be for others, specifically for a student on the autism spectrum. It must be so frustrating when your strengths and interests don’t align with what your school, and even society, values.

1 in just 45 children have been diagnosed with autism. That’s about 2% of students. Although that may sound like a small percentage, consider the fact that there are 15 million high school students in the US, that means there are about 330,000 high school students with autism. Keep in mind that this number that is more than half of Vermont’s population, is only high school students. That’s 330,000 students that may not get the education they need and deserve.

 

Now, more and more teachers are trying to find pathways of education for all learners. Instead of just sitting in a classroom all day, listening and taking notes, some teachers are taking students outside to learn first-hand. Even with these advances in education, students with autism can struggle learning in this type of environment.

Many people with autism go to public schools. But some go to “special needs” schools. There are 21 of these schools in Vermont, and created specifically for people that learn differently. So the question is, is it “better” for students on the autism spectrum to go to a public school, or a school specifically designed for their needs? I know the answer is, “it depends”. There are so many factors, including the student, the public school, the options for “special needs” schools, and the student’s peers. Maybe a student has such a high level of individual needs that they cannot function in a typical classroom. However, if this is not the case, and the public school has educators that can help these students, then maybe the community that is their peers can actually help prepare a student on the spectrum for life after high school. It seems to me that there is also great value in the social interactions between students on the spectrum and typical learners for typical learners because they can learn to understand and accept differences.

At the risk of repeating myself, the stakes are extremely high. Education is sometimes underappreciated and undervalued by a lot students because they don’t understand the consequences of not having a quality education. The United States has one of the best educational systems in the world, so students don’t always understand how lucky they are until they see someone who isn’t as lucky. Despite the fact that, legally, every child must get an education, not everyone is able to reach their full potential because of their learning styles.

 

I’m not dead-set on my specific topic. I’m open to any suggestions. But if I do continue with this topic, I have a lot of questions, and from those questions, I’m seeking not just answers, but also opportunities. There are 20 “special needs” schools in Vermont. What makes them “special”? What can we learn from them? Can certain characteristics of these schools be applied to public schools? All these questions are currently unknown, and I hope that if I continue with my topic I will not only answer these questions, but help those on the autism spectrum with something as important and vital as their education.

 

Here is a link to my presentation.

 

Sources:

Age, By. “New Government Survey Pegs Autism Prevalence at 1 in 45.” Autism Speaks. N.p., 13 Nov. 2015. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.

A-Z, By Subject Index. “Fast Facts.” Fast Facts. NCES, 2016. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.

 

Feature Image Provided by : NY

Emily Pecsok

2 Responses to “#8: One Week – Refining Pitch and Purpose

  • Emily,

    Great work putting together your refined pitch! I really think that you have a wonderful topic that could lead to real change. My only comments are setting the stage, to engage the audience during your presentation. Perhaps, asking people to think about how they feel when you do not fit in, after you ask them to recognizes their differences. Perhaps then asking, what disciplines (areas/subjects) or organizations do not fit them, maybe ending with what could/do you do if you were not accepted as a learner? This might allow you to pick up at the end of your talk with something about, people are born learners but if not provided with the tools and environment unique to them….

    If you felt like discussing learning at the end of your talk maybe stating that all ‘people are born learners’ and then pointing out that when we are born we are unable to walk, talk, etc. Asking how humans figure those things out might continue your engagement with your audience? Telling them that, YOU LEARNED….Not all schools, classes, etc. are organized to do what humans are BORN TO DO…Human beings can do nothing BUT learn. So school, classes, should not some insurmountable feat FOR ALL LEARNERS, it’s what they were born to do PERIOD. Maybe you then state that you are on a quest to create spaces for people to learn based on their uniqueness (connects back to your opening statement), ask people to join you in the revolution!

    Just a few suggestions! Great work and I am sorry that I will miss the overnight. I will be in Atlanta, GA at a conference.

    Casey

    • Casey,

      Thanks so much for your feedback. I think people will be much more interested and engaged if they felt a personal connection or even empathy for those learners.

      I once saw a video on Khan Academy that said exactly what you said, “Even Shakespeare had to learn his ABCs” It’s a really great concept, and I think incorporating it into my pitch will be great.

      Thanks!
      Emily

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