I’ve written before about Michael Graziano and his attention schema theory of consciousness, which seem to me to be the best candidate right now for a scientific theory that actually explains consciousness without resorting to magic steps or simply asserting that it doesn’t exist.
But this article isn’t about that. It’s a sobering tale of what happened to his son, who exhibited some indications of being a special needs child, but instead was ostracized and bullied by the school staff. The most sobering part of this tale is the realization that anyone not as educated as he was would likely have been completely crushed by the system, along with their child.
A few months ago, my son, who is in second grade, went on a field trip. As the class assembled in the parking lot, a new child joined in. He had metal leg braces and difficulty walking. Nobody quite knew how to talk to him and so he was left by himself at the edge of the crowd. But my son seemed drawn to him. As the little boy in braces began to struggle up the steps of the bus, my son went over to help and then sat beside him. Throughout the bus ride, they talked together. According to the teachers, that new little boy soon seemed like the happiest child in the group. One of the most sociable children in the class had made friends with him, and that goes a long way towards building self-esteem when you feel isolated and anxious.
I’m very proud of what my son did. He showed compassion. He was still a new pupil himself, and he had suffered bullying related to a disability of his own. The way he was treated at his previous school was so horrible that he might easily have decided to pay it back rather than forward. But kids can be amazingly smart about how to treat one another. After all, it wasn’t the children who bullied him at his old school. It was the adults.