March 21, 2024

Interview with Jack Laws, Part 2 of 2

Blue Orchard Bee Resource

Interview with Jack Laws, Part 2 of 2Interview with Jack Laws, Part 2 of 2


A long-standing goal at the Blue Orchard Bee is to improve the accessibility of our resources for all of our listeners and readers. This year will are working toward this goal by republishing some of your favorite episodes with new, fully edited transcripts. Originally from the Spring 2022 series, we're re-releasing this interview with Jack Laws with this new and fully-edited transcript. In this interview, Jack about his experience as a child who grew up with differences. This is Part One of Jack's heartfelt story.


The following video is a product of the Blue Orchard Bee and the Charlotte Mason Institute who hold a copyright. You are encouraged to share this file with your friends, family, and colleagues. Do not republish this information in any format, including electronic or digital, without permission from the Charlotte Mason Institute. Ideas suggested in these files do not necessarily reflect the views of the Blue Orchard Bee or the Charlotte Mason Institute. Information provided here is not to be perceived or construed as professional advice in matters of mental health. You are encouraged to work closely with a mental health professional provider that meets your needs.


[This intro highlights the 2022 conference taking place just after this interview was originally published. Read more and join us for the 2024 gathering here!]

Welcome to the Blue Orchard Bee, just a reminder about the CMI conference next week at Asbury University. We hope to see you there. You can learn more at

In today's session, Danielle continues her conversation with Jack Laws. You can learn more about Jack Laws on the internet at On today's session, he and Danielle continue their conversation about Jack's experiences as a neuroatypical person. Stay tuned to the end to hear Jack's personal message to our students.


Jack: So, I would never trade up my dyslexia for anything. I mean, I'd love to read all the books that are on my shelves in addition to looking at the pictures. That would be incredible. I have, I would sometimes dream about just floating through books the way my brother does.

But if that was on the bargaining table and on the other side of the bargain was that you'd give up sort of any way that dyslexia has sort of framed your problem-solving or your approaches to the world, I still wouldn't take being able to read all those books. Because I think it just, it becomes a, just such a beautiful lens for exploring any problem. There's so many ways to do it. And the way that everybody does it isn't necessarily the right way. And the way that I do it, I also know isn't right for everybody else.

And so now I do a lot of teaching. And that's always something that I'm kind of bearing in mind. I can really articulate to myself: what are my strategies and what are the different strategies? And then also be able to look at it from a different perspective and say that that's not going to work for everybody. So, I need another way of explaining that.

I think it has helped me be more empathic. It's strange that I see it framed so often as a deficit. And I like the way you describe it as a difference. And yeah, there are things that are challenging, but there are other doors that it's opened.

And different is a really good thing to be. It's a beautiful thing to be.

But getting through childhood with this is much more difficult than being an adult with this. Because I can be here as an adult and kind of... I know that I can misspell something and it's okay. And it doesn't mean those labels of stupid or lazy. Or all the things that we get called. As an adult, people are interested in my ideas. And if they want things spelled correctly, they can go find that in other places. And also as an adult, I know now that, yeah, I still can't spell. So, I'm going to write a book and I can't spell. And you know what? There are people who are really good at spelling and they're going to help me once I write my book. They're going to fix all that spelling for me. But that team isn't lining up for the seventh grader.

So, I often like to try to talk to other dyslexic kids and, you know, just sort of knowing that it gets better and you're not broken. And also just acknowledging that, yeah, buddy, it's brutal right now, isn't it? It is. But we can't let it break you. And if it does break you, then we got to get a team together to be there to catch you. Knowing that it gets better helps. But boy, those, I still as an adult, there are times when, in spite of all this sort of framing that I'm, just positive framing that I'm describing, there are still times that I surprise myself and I, you know, come up and I realize that, oh, I actually, I'm there still. There's still, you know, these, you know, shame.

And you know, today, for instance, I was, I was trying to do some tax forms. And so that involves adding numbers. And you know, most people can take the number 42 from that piece of paper and bring it over to this other piece of paper and add it or subtract it to this, that, or the other thing. So, I'm taking my 42s and they're turning into 24s and all these sorts of things, me throwing in extra zeros. And it's really frustrating. And just I, I'm so glad I'm not back in a classroom where somebody's then going to take that work, time it, and then judge me for it.

Danielle: So much of what you're saying is resonating with this, this idea that I have struggled with a lot that those of us with differences, you know, we talk a lot about relationship in the Mason community. And, and I think that just this idea of achieving relationship for those of us with differences is just more difficult because everybody else around us is working and doing that relating differently.

So, whether it's building those relationships with our teachers or with, you know, a different subject or an author in a book or whatever, just the fact that our brains are wired differently makes that harder.

Jack: That is a, that's a, I think a really beautiful way to frame it. Because we, if we kind of, we look around and we sort of see what the norm is. And I'm not that, I feel, I feel, I feel broken. I feel on the outside looking in. And I may be able to forge my own relationships with things in my own way, but because it's different, then you look at it and go, is that not right?

And, you know, just think of the role of, of reading in a Charlotte Mason education. There's this sort of central pillar with all of these, these, these beautiful books. And we're going to be just diving into those and losing themselves in it. And you look over at your brother and, and he's lost in the book. And you're over here with your, you know, the bookmark under the letters following along and it's going slowly and because of that struggle. It's not - you're not lost in the book. You're working at that book. And then you look around and what's normal? Eye- reading is what everybody else is doing. So, that must be the right way to do it. And I'm not, I don't have other role models of people ear-reading. And so I think that eye-reading is the, is, somehow that must be the better way. That must be the only way. That must be the way that I should be able to do it. You know, even as a grownup, I find myself doing that. Like if I really need to read something, I need to, to ear-read it. It comes in through my ears and then I'm following along with the book. Stuff just gets into my head so smoothly. And then it stays there. And then I can, I can play with those ideas that come in through the eyes. It's, it's, it's work. But, you know, I still find myself sometimes, you know, losing track of, you know, these tools that I have to, to compensate and level the playing field, you know, you got to - it's just so important to find your set of tools and to value those and to give yourself permission to use those again and again and again.

And it's not like, you know, 'oh, someday you're going to grow out of this. And then I'm going to read like my brother.' No, this is, this is, I'm 53 or 54. I keep forgetting because my age changes every year. And, you know, I should have figured out by now that I'm going to be ear- reading for the rest of my life. And that's good. And the only place that it kind of runs into a problem is if I think to myself, I 'should' be doing this eye-reading thing. That's normal or that's better. Really any way that I can get these ideas into my head and, and make them mine.

my process of narration is through journaling through nature journaling.

For me, my process of narration is through journaling through nature journaling. And I will take in the environment or ideas or sit in a lecture - I will take it all in and then put it out onto my page and kind of there's this, there's, there's a wonderful conversation between, you know, me and the subject matter that it becomes crystallized when it falls down on that page with lots of doodles with lots of pictures and icons and big all cap titles and misspellings. Yeah, that's so dangerous when we think that we've got to be, that we should be the way that other people's brains are.

Danielle: Is there anything else that you would like to share with our Blue Orchard Bee community?

Jack: Just, you know, a message for parents. First of all, I want to acknowledge - it's really hard. It's really, really hard. And I've just got so much love and respect for you for, again, for standing in the fire and being there and not giving up.

My second thought is your kid's not broken. We're different. And the world really needs that.

The challenges - you know, it's hard to see your kids struggle. And, and it's hard to see your kid fall, but they're going to be falling a lot. And it's okay. You're going to be there to help train them and teach them how to get back up. If we can get through this childhood and adolescence, this is the hardest part. They're going to emerge into this world with an incredible gift, an incredible gift. An incredible skill set that the world really needs.

And you can - you're there to acknowledge that where they are right now is difficult and help give coping strategies. To try a bunch of different things. Generally, if something is framed as a cure, it's a hoax. I'm not looking for someone to cure me, but I am interested in finding some strategies and technologies that are going to be workarounds for problems that I'm facing. So, teach it as not a cure situation, but we want to get some more strategies on the table to help me be able to negotiate whatever problem I'm dealing with. I'm going to treat it as this problem-solving game. And to know that it does get better.

The time that we are most judged for things as absurd as the way we spell or whether our d's look like p's is in our youth and adolescence. Using assistive technologies has absolutely saved me. And you might look over at somebody else's family and they go like, 'oh, they're all doing sight-reading over there. That's the way I should be doing it.' And 'Charlotte Mason wasn't having anybody do books on tape.' Well, books on tape weren't available for her then. If she was around right now, I think she'd think it was really, really cool because she paid attention to what works. And that's what we want to keep our mind on. What works? What's going to help us kind of manage these situations?

The kid's not broken. We're going to find a bunch of strategies and not all of them will be ideal for you, but you keep trying them. Avoid the cures.

And for any kids who are listening, the hardest thing about this is that sometimes we give up on ourselves. And if that happens to you here or there, don't beat yourself up about that. You're human. But we're also resilient.

We're incredibly resilient. Know that those voices that are saying that we are worth less, the voices that call us stupid - those sometimes come from other people, sometimes we internalize them and they come from ourselves. They're objectively wrong. You are brilliant. You are strong. You are powerful. You are good. You can do all sorts of things. And because of the challenges that you're facing, you are going to be developing strategies that most kids never will because they don't have to. And I know it's not fair that you have to and they don't have to. But you know what? You're going to be developing these skills because you have to to survive and you will. And you're going to come out on the other side of this with strategies and skills that will completely blow them away. Right now in our childhood and our adolescence, this is the hardest part because we are judging ourselves by their yardsticks, not our own. And as you go further in life, you are going to start to see the shape of your own yardsticks. And that is going to make a huge difference. You can do this and we're going to get through this. And just thank you all so much for your time and bless you.

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