When Temple Grandin spoke at the SXSWedu Conference & Festival opening keynote presentation in Austin, Texas, on Monday, the famed author and autism advocate made a number of points about reforms our education system needs to make to benefit children of all abilities.
“We want to help students be everything that they can be,” she began. Grandin explained how she’s a visual learner, and it was only after being exposed to different areas of study that she was able to discover what she was truly passionate about.
Grandin urged educators to find their students’ strengths and interests, rather than focusing on labels and what they cannot do, proposing that students be given access to as many subjects as possible in school.
“We’ve got to start working more on building up the kids’ strengths,” she stated. “Kids are getting labels, “mild autism,” “Asperger’s,” “dyslexia,” “learning problems,” this and that. Whatever you want to put on them, often have uneven skills. Good at one thing, bad at something else. We need to get a lot more emphasis on building up the things they’re good at — the things they can turn into a career.”
Grandin also explained that getting in the habit of labeling early on may cause conflicts later, noting the gap between “field people” and “academics” in a number of professions.
Grandin is best known for developing a more humane system for cows being led to slaughter, which is used in facilities housing half the cattle in the United States. She currently works as a professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University.
Watch her full keynote speech above.
h/t Ed Surge