Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Woodrow Wilson had learning difficulties!

Last week I got a chance to visit the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library in Staunton, Virginia. We even got to see the 1919 Pierce Arrow limousine that he rode in while he was president. The museum is housed right next door to his birthplace. In the museum I was able to learn about Woodrow Wilson’s life as a child, young man, his rise into politics, and his life as our 28th president during World War I.

The fact that really caught my attention was when the tour guide stated that Woodrow Wilson never learned to read until he was around ten years old. Teachers felt he was slow and had major learning problems and felt that he should be removed from school in order to learn a trade. I’m sure I can imagine the frustration of the teachers while I can also feel the parents’ pain when they are told this information. Yet, Woodrow Wilson’s father, who was a Presbyterian minister, never gave up on him. His father believed in him and helped him learn to read. I wonder why he had these difficulties. Did he have a learning disability, dyslexia or ADHD? Did he have a learning style that just didn’t match his teacher’s teaching style?

No matter what the reason, he eventually did learn to read and even went to law school. In fact, Woodrow Wilson is the only US president to ever get a doctoral degree. Eventually he would become President of Princeton University and Governor of New Jersey. He also went on to write books as well.

I wonder what would have happened if his dad had listened to the teacher. What would have happened if his dad had not kept on believing in him? I hope this teaches me really listen to parents during a conference. I hope I can look for solutions instead of just giving up on a child. When I feel frustrated and want to give up, I hope I think of this man and the strength it took to go against the beliefs of teachers, the professionals who think they know best. I hope this story encourages me to look for different ways to motivate my slow learners.

Photo credit: Woodrow Wilson by mharrsch


Tammy said...

His story is so inspiring and just shows you anyone can learn if they want to. I just wish a lot of our children today had the same gumption. Don't know if that is a word or not Ms. Pat. hehehe The teacher is always watching you know. :)

Paul Hamilton said...

Thanks for sharing this story. It deserves to be better known. --Paul

Unknown said...

What a great reminder to look beyond the surface and find the potential inside. Thank you for sharing this! I'm going to print it out and hang it near my desk at school as a constant reminder.

loonyhiker said...

tammy, paul, miss mcmillan: I'm so glad you enjoyed this. I never knew all this either but I am learning that there is more to these Presidential Libraries that I thought there was.