My daughter would be at high risk of trauma or failure in a public classroom. Why? Because certain sensory needs are not addressed in a typical classroom – and when these needs aren’t met for her, the repercussions are pronounced and obvious. Symptoms of high anxiety (nail bitting, sleep disturbances, emotionally on edge, panic attacks, etc) and sensory over or under responsiveness become very apparent. For more typical children symptoms of not having sensory needs meet may appear as tiredness, hyperactivity, disinterest, apathy, moodiness, and / or stress.
The bottom line here, whether you have a sensory typical or atypical kid, is the public school system is often failing to address the fundamental needs of developing children. Much of our educational pedagogy is based on 60 year old theories that lack the benefit of modern developmental and cognitive neuro science and Psychology (Montessori, Waldorf, etc). And much of our educational policy is implemented in a top down maner from politicians to educators.
Many public schools are also failing at their secondary purpose. In addition to the failure of meeting the basic educational and physiological needs of students, the system is also failing to produce engaged and participatory members of our society. As Daniel Pink lays out in his book, Free Agent Nation, our working culture has shifted from a model where an employee dedicates herself to a parent company that cares for that employee over her lifetime (loyalty being the key virtue) to a network of self responsible free actors / individual contributors (self actualization being the key virtue). Education is still being taught in the one to many, one common core standard fits all method – which is not teaching the critical thinking and self responsibility skills needed to succeed in our present society.
Sensory School is my response to the fact that the current state of education is not keeping pace with scientific research or cultural change. I want to build a school where each student will have their basic physiological, developmental, and social needs not just met – but full filled. A school that will help each student on his or her path to self actualization by working with them to build the skills, passion, and confidence to be successful. A school that knows what it means to be a kid with fundamental sensory integration needs (whether typical, hyper or hypo sensitive) – and will design and evolve a curriculum and educational pedagogy that supports the sensory system.