By Peter Stanton
A bit before lockdown, I had a couple of parents (I think seriously) say, “you should write a book.” I registered this but dismissed it because I couldn’t see why my approach to teaching and supporting Neurodiverse (ND) children and young adults is different from others working with the Neurodiverse community. However, I was saying to a student during an online support session, ‘state the obvious in your answers! Because otherwise, the obvious will not be evident to the reader!’ And this thought played on my mind leading to the decision to use the space created by lockdown to write out what I consider to be the ‘obvious’ things to do to support an ND learner moving from primary to secondary education. Why does it seem obvious to me to teach these young people these study skills? Why are they so crucial for GCSE exam success? Thus, ‘Wrong Jungle’ was born, and my ‘outside-in’ approach to learning study skills found its way onto paper, or rather its electronic equivalent.
So, my lockdown project was to write a book on coaching ND children and young adults on how to develop study skills. It needed to be focused on sitting GCSE exams as this can be one of the biggest challenges an ND learner faces. I am also realistic. Most ND learners need support. Who supplies this support? Parents, carers, guardians and teachers. Therefore, this book also had to be helpful to them. In a typical ND way, I had gone for a holistic approach that considered how the ND learner functioned in their living and learning environments.
The next thing I realised was that I was never going to fit this all into one book. So, the ‘Wrong Jungle’ covers making the transition from primary to secondary school and what I consider are essential study skills to learn to get the most out of Key Stage 3.
Indeed, all the skills and techniques outlined in ‘Wrong Jungle’ are essential for doing your GCSEs. But the problem is they are not enough. So, the next book in the series will address this.
My Neurodiversity shaped the form and structure of ‘Wrong Jungle’. It was too dull to write this up as a list of strategies and techniques. Therefore, I have mixed sections on study skills techniques with narratives about how learners typically engage with this type of learning. I use blog posts to highlight specific points and approaches and allow learners to practice some of these skills. Above, all else I have wanted to show my community as truthfully as I can, and while I want people to be hopeful about their future, I don’t want to mislead them about the work they are going to have to do.