In ARTICLES A-Z, Education

The Remarkable Life of Gillian Lynne

by Marianne Sunderland

gillian-lynne-childGrowing up in England in the 1930s,  Gillian Lynne was 7-years old when her mother took her to the doctor because her school was concerned that she had a learning disorder.

Unable to sit still, Gillian had earned the nickname Wriggle Bottom. Gillian felt hopeless, her teachers were exasperated, and her mother was at the end of her tether. The idea of ADHD had not been born yet.

What happened at that doctor’s office radically changed Gillian’s life and provides a lesson for all parents who are seeking answers to how to raise their outside the box kids.

After listening to Gillian’s mother explain the teachers’ concerns about Gillian’s disruptive behavior, the doctor and Gillian’s mother stepped outside the office to speak privately. Before leaving the office, the doctor put some music on his tiny office radio.

From the hallway outside that office, Mrs. Lynne and the doctor peered in and observed Gillian jumping and twirling around the room, enraptured by the music.

The doctor turned to Mrs. Lynne and famously said, “There is nothing wrong with your child. She is a dancer.” After which he recommended Gillian be enrolled in dance school.

Can I just stop here for a minute and say, “Hallelujah!” I mean seriously, who was that doctor?

gillian-lynne-dancingGillian’s mom did enroll her in dance school about which Gillian remarked later, “Everyone was like me! They needed to move to be able to think. It was wonderful!”

Gillian went on to have a wonderful career at the Royal Ballet. She eventually graduated from the Royal Ballet School and met Andrew Lloyd Webber. She’s been responsible for some of the most successful theater productions in history such as Cats and Phantom of the Opera.

Not only has she given pleasure to millions,  she’s a multimillionaire!

Dame Gillian Barbara Lynne, DBE was an English ballerina, dancer, choreographer, actress, and theatre-television director, noted for her theatre choreography associated with two of the longest-running shows in Broadway history, Cats and The Phantom of the Opera

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libbys-story-the-silent-child-oscar-winning-short-filmLibby’s Story

This beautiful short film won an Oscar. While its intent was to highlight the challenges facing a deaf child, it also reveals a particular parenting situation.

“Busy parents Sue and Paul decide to get help from social worker, Joanne, to prepare their youngest daughter Libby, who is deaf, for the big step of going to school for the first time. Joanne and Libby bond almost immediately, with Joanne beginning to teach British Sign Language to a responsive Libby …  ” watch this beautiful 20 minute film > > >

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museums-child-at-mod-led-wall-2Taking aim at alternative ed…again Posted on May 24, 2021 by Suki Posted in Culture This is what alternative education looks like. It’s not news that administrators in public education are generally not fans of alternative education. I live in possibly the most alternative-friendly county in the country… and I could tell you a few stories. But the tiny, vital community comprised of online public homeschool charters seems to attract more than the usual share of fear, mistrust, and derision from administrators and legislators. California’s AB 1316 is just the latest bomb being lobbed at a tiny segment of education that our enormous, well-funded public school army has decided to obliterate. Really? Don’t you have something better to do, like make sure that all schools have adequate janitorial staff? Charters are in the crosshairs Late 2019 saw the comically timed AB 1505/7 bills that restricted charter schools, especially ones that provided distance education, from expanding. Get the joke? The pandemic hit…and what sort of services did everyone need? The punchline! Everyone needed the expertise of these schools that had successfully been providing distance learning for years to get them through shelter-in-place. (Did the districts go to these repositories of knowledge for advice in how to implement distance learning? Why no, that would be admitting that these charters were providing a useful service. Most public schools chose to reinvent the steering wheel that homeschool educators have had a grasp on for years). Here we go again En garde!This is what alternative education looks like. Now AB 1316 wants to chip away at these programs again, providing less money per student, as if students who seek alternative educational options are second-class citizens. Separate? True, they chose to leave mainstream schools. But that doesn’t mean their education should be unequal. I can’t begin to explain why people who say they are educators want to restrict a mode of education that works for some children. Could it be that it often works for our high achiever kids who have had it with mainstream high school and take their high test scores elsewhere? Could it be that parents of kids with special needs, including families that want to retain their linguistic heritage or families who don’t want their kids bullied because of how they look or talk, are voting with their feet? Who uses these charters, anyway? This is hardly an exhaustive list, but here are examples of the many distance charter families I have known, or families served by friends of mine who teach for these organizations: Smart, focused students who need more than their local high schools will offer Black and brown kids whose parents want them to grow up with a healthy self-image Kids with mental health challenges for whom home is the place where they can heal Kids with life-threatening allergies for whom in-person school is simply not viable Kids who are top competitors in their field—athletics, chess, dance, etc. Children of certified public school teachers whose parents know what public school can be like and choose to stay home Let’s focus on the real problems weavingThis is what alternative education looks like. Yes, all schools should be “held accountable.” But what does that mean? If parents consistently rate their online charter school highly, and there is no reason to think that money is being embezzled or spent on bonbons for administrators, that should be accountability enough. There are a lot of real problems with public education. And despite the (I admit) rather angry tone of this piece (supporters of alternative ed are just, frankly, tired of this), I am a huge supporter of public education. I believe that all children should be educated, for free, for the benefit of all of our society. But again, I must repeat: Not all schools serve all children equally well. Children who need alternatives should get them—for free. Stop blaming alternatives for lagging mainstream school enrollment. The public school system owns that problem 100%. For more information: Why state leaders must reject AB 1316, a deceptive and destructive force against California’s public school children Flexibility Is Key The [supposed] failure of online education Anti-Charter School Bill (AB 1316) from