Learning Outside the Lines is an insightful and heartfelt self-help book targeted at students with ADHD, dyslexia, and other learning disorders (LD). Authors Jonathan Mooney and David Cole attempt to teach students how to take charge and achieve success in an education system that’s not designed with LD students in mind. Both Mooney and Cole describe their experiences in the school system with candor, humor, and intelligence.
Warning: there’s a bit of swearing in the first section, but it’s part of what makes the authors’ first-hand testimonials achingly powerful. You may also want to have some tissue nearby — I still can’t make it through Mooney’s first chapter without tearing up.
Both Mooney and Cole struggled in school due to their LDs and ADHD. Mooney is dyslexic and didn’t learn to read until he was 12 years-old and Cole’s ADHD got him into a lot of trouble in school. Both of them experienced the frustration and sadness that go hand-in-hand with seeing yourself and your future defined by teachers who have low expectations of you.
The book discusses the damaging effects of standardized education and testing on students with LDs and ADHD. Mooney and Cole say that the American education system essentially expects students with LDs and ADHD to fail. When students learn differently, standard teaching and testing measures don’t give students, parents, teachers, or institutions an accurate portrait of students’ true abilities and aptitudes.
Both Mooney and Cole were considered to be “academic failures”, until they changed the way they learned. Eventually, they both graduated from Brown University at the top of their classes. The study and learning tips in the second part of the book are academic gold — I wish I had this book when I was completing my undergrad degree and my graduate thesis!
I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s an absolute must for students with LDs and ADHD, but also their parents, and the adults who teach them.
Kirstin Stokes Smith is a web copywriter, blogger, born again yoga enthusiast, and the person to blame for the parents’ video game ratings blog: MOMmentary on Games: http://mommentaryongames.wordpress.com. You can also find her at MyShakyBodhi: http://myshakybodhi.wordpress.com