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Review of Learning Outside the Lines

Posted Jan 09 2010 8:45am

Jonathan Mooney and David Cole have written the student support book I wished I read when I started high school and college and was classified as having a learning disability


This booked is packed full of tricks and twists to get the troubled student to survive the system and all it’s annoying realities.  From how to replace lost notes to how to take notes this book is an A to Z survival guide written by two students who had bee there and done that.  Each author brings a unique perspective to the table with Mr. Mooney talking about Dyslexia and Mr. Cole speaking about ADHD.


As the authors point out students who are categorized with a learning disability are perfectly positioned to take advantage of the college system and get a full college education with out having to sit through another lecture or test.  Many students are unaware of how flexible a liberal arts education can be and in this book we see all the levers and insider tricks laid bare.


Not being interested in attending any more schooling with my MS in Education I was not as interested in backbends and other nifty moves covered in the 2nd half of the book.  I as a dyslexic survivor of out modern schools system I appreciate the skill set that the authors offer – the one weakness of the book is that the authors don’t spend enough time explaining a students rights and legal recourse under the American with Disabilities Act.


Many students in technical schools and state colleges may find that some of these tricks described in the book are not available to them with out the liberal education focus… but even these students would benefit from a reading of “Learning Outside the Lines” 


The most moving section of the book for me by far was Jonathan Mooney’s autobiography chapter.   I hope that he has published this elsewhere because the story of his early educational experience should be widely distributed.  I cried like a little baby when I read his description of hiding in the bathroom to avoid reading a loud to the class and how he took days off to avoid tests.  Memories I am sure I have buried and long forgotten.  I howled with anger to hear his description of his teachers’ hard line attitude that all the children needed to have the same standards.


These things happened to Jonathan and David in the 80’s when the American with Disabilities Act was in full force.  I went through grade school on the liberal west side of Manhattan with enlightened people who did the same behaviors ten years before.  This book makes me wonder how many teachers continue to belief that all children need to learn the same way.  Growing up in NYC I was not turned off by the language, but I have read that some people are.   My experience working with troubled teenagers is that they know all that language intimately and the idea that they need to be protected form it is insulting to them.


Thank-you Mr. Cole and Mr. Mooney for writing this book.  Required reading for any college bound student who suspects he or she may qualify as a learning disabled student.
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