Solutions for Smart but Struggling Students

Session 1: Should We Fix What’s Wrong or Scale What’s Right?

Jonathan Mooney
Running time: 15:26

[accessally_has_any_tag tag_id='1074210,662974' comment='SBSS_2019_Has_Access,IdeaLab_Has_Access']



[accessally_missing_all_tag tag_id='1074210,662974' comment='SBSS_2019_Has_Access,IdeaLab_Has_Access']

Want to put the learning into action and make progress at home?

Enrollment for the IdeaLab program closes Monday October 21 at 10pm Pacific, but it’s not too late join!




  1. lynda howells on October 20, 2019 at 10:23 am

    Oh wow …he so describe my upbringing and l am 67.

  2. Sara on September 22, 2019 at 9:26 pm

    Mary, yes, this concept of different or other is one that touches us all. Johnathan’s talk makes this concept so relatable. I loved it too!!

    Sara, with the B&Q Team

  3. Jill Kaplan on September 19, 2019 at 8:46 pm

    Jonathan’s words really resonated with me, not only relating to what we are experiencing with our 14 year old daughter, but with my own childhood experiences. He recognized that he is different but not deficient and how he experienced disability in environments that couldn’t accommodate his differences. I wish I could have recognized this 40 years ago! I want to hold up a sign in the lobby of our public school that says, “Change the context, not the person!” Perhaps in the Idea Lab we can brainstorm ways to empower our teachers to follow this mantra (and have bumper stickers made)!

    • Sara on September 22, 2019 at 9:13 pm

      Jill, this is fantastic! I am so excited that you got so much out of Johnathan’s talk if you haven’t read his book “Normal Sucks” its a great and quick read. I listened to it on Audible in 3 days due to a long commute for work I have had the past couple of weeks. My take away from Johnathan’s book is we all have strength’s that need to shared with the world and no one is broken. To be honest, I was driving in my car through terrible traffic cheering for Johnathan and his life experiences. I think as a society the US needs to redefine and stop stigmatizing the non-normal people in the world. Hang in there with your 2E kid. I do recommend the All-Access pass. It is a great way to get this full-bodied experience. Good luck!

      Sara, with the B&Q Team

  4. Laurie on September 19, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    I enjoyed this and wrote down a few great concepts like change the context not the person and the question ‘what does it mean to thrive?’. Thank you!!

  5. Lynn on September 19, 2019 at 3:40 pm

    Oh my gosh! That was awesome! Thank you.

    • Sara on September 22, 2019 at 9:14 pm

      Lynn, you are most welcome!!

      Sara, with the B&Q Team

  6. Rita Butlett on September 19, 2019 at 1:58 pm

    The comment, “When you try to make the round peg fit the square hole too much, the peg eventually breaks” hits home with me. I see this in public education all the time. I see it within the reading programs I am asked to deliver which is at times scripted and structured with a lot of “sit and get.”

    • Sara on September 22, 2019 at 9:19 pm

      Thank you, Rita, for sharing your thoughts around the “Round Peg.” Yes, kids are not supported for their uniqueness but for the standard Bell curve like traits they bring to the table. At B&Q, we love educators and hope you will think about joining our IdeaLab. It’s a fantastic way of getting great information and access to additional B&Q ideas/tools.

      Thank you for your contribution to educating our children and realizing that we are trying to provide to our kids a cookie-cutter education.

      Sara with the B&Q Team

  7. Srie on September 19, 2019 at 11:02 am

    Insightful!! Thank you for sharing this. Great talk! I can totally relate his message. THANK YOU!

    • Sara on September 22, 2019 at 9:20 pm

      Srie, you are most welcome. Glad you have enjoyed the talk.

      Sara, With the B&Q Team

  8. Wendy Wolpert on September 19, 2019 at 10:36 am

    Thank you, Jonathan! Listening to you talk about the imaginary mean gave me a moment of inspiration to see the “Bell Curve” in a 3-D way. Your thoughts on the idea of being outside that central tendency gave me a real creative burst. Keep doing the work, you’re awesome!

  9. Lisa Wang on September 19, 2019 at 10:06 am

    Debbie, Could you share that quote in text so I an cut and paste it and send it to my school superintendent?! To change society, I think you have to start with the heart and have someone feel to then be motivated to understand. This quote may be more powerful than some intellectual argument.

  10. Meredith on September 18, 2019 at 8:25 pm

    I’m so happy I’m not normal, and in our house, we take pride in our weirdness! I really enjoyed this! I was in those reading groups, and had summers with reading classes.

  11. Lindsay on September 18, 2019 at 7:50 pm

    Truly appreciated this conversation as my son is experiencing and feeling the impact of dyslexia and anxiety in school for the first time now that he is getting older. This message will really help me reinforce that his difference is essential….I love that mindset!

  12. Marcia on September 18, 2019 at 6:18 pm

    Wow! Love the quote Debbie shared from your book. So powerful and so true! I have been learning to focus on building the strengths and provide supports in the areas of weakness, rather than focusing on fixing or strengthening the weaknesses. I believe they will either develop as my child needs them or my child will figure out how to get those supports in his life at any stage of the game. We have had a break-through year! He is amazing and we have to get this message into the public schools for all those amazing kids out there who are just different.

    • Lauren on September 19, 2019 at 9:55 am

      So great to hear about your breakthrough year, Marcia! We totally agree about getting this message out to teachers and admin for our amazing kids.
      -Lauren with the B&Q Team

  13. Anja on September 18, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    It is so refreshing and comforting to hear the message that you share, thank you!

  14. Michelle on September 18, 2019 at 3:16 pm

    This is such an important message. Every parent of particularly dyslexic kids needs to hear this. The heartbreak I feel when I read what parents write in online dyslexia support groups is mostly due to this unaddressed and maybe unrealized issue: that is, parents recognize how broken the system in which they are fighting is, but they may not realize how deeply ingrained in our social construct it is, and realize how to get out. I am dealing with this in our household too, but we homeschool now and have begun the healing process. The trauma caused is very real, and very underestimated IMO.

  15. Sharon on September 18, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    I am an early childhood special educator, and see the struggles active children have in traditional programs. I & really liked Jonathan’s comment about “learning by moving and doing” which is so lemental for young children. I will share this with the programs I am involved with. Thank you!

    • Lauren Hutchinson on September 19, 2019 at 9:23 am

      Thank you for sharing, Sharon! Learning by moving and doing is so necessary for some children, and the ability to do so would reduce a good share of behavioral issues too!
      -Lauren with the B&Q Team

    • Sara on September 22, 2019 at 9:24 pm

      Sharon, I couldn’t agree with your more “about learning by doing.” Developmentally, young children, especially learn best by doing. I suggest reading the book, Spark by John Ratey, that Johnathan shared in his talk. It’s fascinating and will make you look at learning conceptually differently.

  16. Andre and Willa on September 18, 2019 at 11:45 am

    Scale What’s Right for sure! My childhood was fixed the … let’s leave it … but for my son, we have a focus on the strength from day one and we see the evidence of this statement working daily!

  17. Sabrina on September 18, 2019 at 11:33 am

    I struggle with this when it comes to day to day things like tying shoes or using utensils. So far, I’ve let my kids be who they are by just getting velcro shoes, but now my daughter is aging out of those types of shoes and still doesn’t know how to tie laces. Part of me thinks of should have insisted on it when she was younger, as she has lost a fine motor skill, but part of me thinks that she’ll find slip on shoes or some other work around. Where do you draw the line for things like this?

    • Lauren Hutchinson on September 19, 2019 at 9:40 am

      I had a similar situation here! I let my son go a long time in slip on shoes and then made the transition when style started to matter to him, so in that respect I listened to his wishes. We practiced it a lot on the weekends before he went out of the house with them and made a game out of the repetition needed to tie the laces successfully. For me I draw the line with honoring what my now teen can’t (and shouldn’t change, especially neurologically) and what he can change with some practice, especially if it’s his desire. Children are constantly growing in cognitive and motor skills, so often skills are latent, not lost.
      -Lauren with the B&Q Team

  18. Alli Rose on September 18, 2019 at 11:22 am

    It really is such a challenge to keep my beautiful teenage daughter in a place where the current all important sense of acceptance and lack thereof is able to live alongside her sense of being different. Thank you for the assurance and the encouragement to stand by this and to help her keep her sense of self regardless.

    • Silmara on September 18, 2019 at 7:23 pm

      Great talk with very good information coming from his own experience. The concept of “normal”, very interesting.
      Is it so unthinkable that kids sit on a ball while listening, I have a ball at home and my boy hops and rolls on it even when watching an interesting movie…and pays attention. It is nice to hear him talk about the need to change what society sets as normal….
      Thanks so much for this interview

  19. Sandy on September 18, 2019 at 10:46 am

    Thank you Jonathan Mooney! Declaring that kids have differences, not disabilities, and that the thing that needs to be changed is the context, not the kid resonated so much with me concerning one of my children. I so appreciate what you said!

    • Holly Blumenstyk on September 18, 2019 at 5:49 pm

      Thanks, Jonathan, great talk! I am a special educator/educational diagnostician in private practice who works as an advocate for bright 2E children who are suffering in the wrong educational environment. Sometimes we are able to modify or change the educational setting so we have a happier, more engaged child. Thanks for making this info available to more people!

      • Lauren on September 19, 2019 at 9:57 am

        Holly, thanks for your advocacy on behalf of our wonderful 2e kiddos. So glad you could see Jonathan’s valuable talk!
        -Lauren with the B&Q Team

  20. Mary Vostrejs on September 18, 2019 at 10:39 am

    I can relate to this message with so many of my own family members! Thank you.

Leave a Comment