Friday, November 13, 2009


This is the “major” that the two professors told my son might possibly being an alternative concentration. The director of the Office for Students with Disabilities told me she did not know what it stood for. Go figure. If any readers know what it might stand for (Bachelor of…Good Feelings??) please let me know.

Apart from that, we (the director and I) had a pretty lengthy discussion following her meeting yesterday with these two teachers. She assured me that they were not trying to dissuade my son from pursuing his chosen major (which they unfortunately did). They only wanted to express their concern over his ability to meet the requirements of several courses. She then listed nine or ten specific courses that they were afraid he could not do. These courses had names like Workshop for Theater (I & II), Production and Stagecraft. I asked the director what specific requirements for these classes were causing concern for the professors. She did not know. I told her that we (she, my son, the teachers or I) really could not discuss these classes relative to his learning disability until we had a clear picture of exactly how the requirements would challenge him. I asked that she have my son’s advisor send me the course outlines with particular sections highlighted that she felt would be too hard, with or without accommodations.

In the meantime, the immediate issue is the use of power tools for the Stage Tech course he is currently taking. Recall that this was the class that caused my son to tell me that we ‘weren’t paying enough for this school,’ because it was so good. This is also the class, with one assignment, that unleashed his insecurities (‘I should have taken a gap year; I can’t do this’). Starting next week, the students will be using drill presses, band saws and table saws. In yesterday’s class they were introduced to these machines.

Am I concerned that he will be using power tools like these? Yes. Can he use power tools? Yes. He did a Habitat for Humanity build after tenth grade; he can drive a car (though he doesn’t have a license), which is a pretty big machine. My son is a champion multi-tasker and can maintain focus on whichever is the most important undertaking. Since most college students probably took college prep courses in high school and not mechanical or building classes, I assume very few in his Stage Tech class have had extensive experience working with these tools. ALL of them will have to be extremely careful. He is nervous, and rightly so – although I think he is more nervous given what he perceived as a no-confidence vote.

I talked to him yesterday afternoon and it is becoming clearer to me that his concerns over his choice of major have very little to do with his NLD (so this battle may be one not worth fighting). He is not feeling much of a connection with the teachers or theater classmates; he doesn’t much like the Tech class at this point. But he agreed to do his best and finish out this semester before making any decision. And then he mentioned that “by the way” – he is in all general study courses next semester. Whoa! It sounds like his decision has already been made (for him?). He did explain that the only course from his BFA major flow chart that was offered was “Voice for Performance;” but, for whatever reason he is not even taking that. Incidentally, it was not on the list of “difficult” courses.

If the professors were not trying to discourage my son from majoring in Stage Management, why is he not enrolled in the one required course for the degree that is offered next semester? Presumably, his Faculty Advisor guided his choices last week during registration. It is probably fortunate that he is leaning toward changing majors anyway, given how the faculty and administrators are handling this particular disability. It’s been a major disappointment for me; less so for my son though, and it’s his life.

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