F.A.T. City Video Essay
Arkansas State University
September 22, 2014
In the four part video series F.A.T. City, How Difficult Can This Be? Richard D. Lavoie, Director of the Eagle Hill School Outreach Program in Greenwich, Connecticut, takes us into a day in the life of a learning disabled child. Lavoie presents his opinions through a series of activities designed to give children and adults alike an insight into the difficulties an LD child faces day in and day out in the school and at home. F. A. T. City highlights frustration, anxiety, and tension while discussing a wide range of issues that should be addressed in today’s educational system.
Appropriately, these lectures are held in a classroom setting with no special equipment. The classroom is what you would find in any public school system in the country. The lecturer takes the main stage in the center of the classroom and is surrounded by the attendees on three sides. The participants range in age from approximately 12 to 55, and the seating is the same that a student would use in a daily classroom.
As stated earlier the participants range in age from approximately 12 to 55 with a number of different educational backgrounds. A wide variety of individuals make up the audience including mainstream teachers, special education teachers, parents of LD children, parents of non LD children, therapists, school administrators and even an LD child, and a non LD child.
During the activities Lavoie plays the part of a no nonsense teacher barking orders at the participants as if they were his students. In each activity the facilitator (Lavoie) guides the participants into seemingly mundane tasks that you would find in most mainstream classrooms. Lavoie keeps the participants guessing when the “easy” tasks become something much more difficult. The use of the activities contained in this video series were meant to open the eyes of the participants and viewers alike. Activities such as viewing a simple picture of a cow proved to be too difficult for the audience until further instruction was provided by Lavoie. Copying a simple shape was infinitely more difficult when viewing that shape through a mirror, illustrating the difficulties that an LD child would have with visual perception and hand eye coordination. Reading simple sentences proved to be very difficult as the participants struggled through a passage that was geared to show the difficulties with spacial orientation regarding the letters p, q, b, and d. Even regurgitating a simple passage pertaining to George Washington was seemingly impossible until the “teacher” read it aloud to the “class”. In all, the activities contained in this video were entertaining as well as educational.
This video series opened my eyes to a number of problems that I may have known existed, but did not truly understand. I enjoyed the activities from a learning prospective as well as from an entertainment standpoint. This kept the lecture from being the same dry information contained in other lectures. Much of the information that affected me the most was what Lavoie explained between the activities. Lavoie spoke of the use of sarcasm which is quite often a tool that I have witnessed, meant to “push” students in the direction we want them to go. Lavoie said that “we will forget that remark in 5 minutes, but that child will remember it for years”. (Lavoie 1989) That particular statement set the tone for the rest of the series. Another instance early on in the presentation was what Lavoie said about processing, “the learning disabled child has to process the question while the mainstream child is processing the answer”. (Lavoie 1989) He goes on to explain that if we give the LD child time to process the question and the answer most times the LD child will get the question right. Negative reinforcement without positive reward was also touched upon as well as “blaming the victim”. (Lavoie 1989) I...
References: Lavoie, R. D. and Rosen, P. (1989). F.A.T. City Difficult Can This Be? Rosen, P. USA, PBS Video.
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