Need for custom curicula for aphantasic students.

Based on my own experiences, I am concerned that aphantasics are inherently discriminated against by many educational systems.  Many educational institutions require that all students take many courses that emphasize memorization and/or designed for people who can create visual and/or auditory images.  For example, many colleges require that a student take at least a year of a foreign language.  That may be a reasonable requirement for most students, but it is not reasonable for a aphantasic who does not create auditory images.  As another example, when we were young, my wife took a college level course on mineralogy in which the students were expected to visually recognize about 1000 different minerals.  That course would have been a disaster for me.  I would like to see some research done to convince educational institutions to test each student’s learning styles and, then, provide a custom curricula of courses for aphantasic students.

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I certainly agree. I’m well into my 70’s but recall how difficult it was/is to learn a foreign language and memorize most anything. It continues to be a challenge to remember names and faces let alone lyrics to songs, etc. I’ve had a successful career as an IT management consultant and attribute this and my ability to recall so many things or somehow, using objective means, develop solutions to a variety of problems that one would think you need to visualize first. My guess is that I think in terms of process steps which do not require visualization. So, back to your comment about adopting different teaching techniques for those of us with aphantasia, perhaps rather than requiring memorization of the periodic table or historical events etc. through visualization or other standard techniques, schools could teach us memorization through ‘Semantic memory’ which refers to a major division of long-term memory that includes knowledge of facts, events, ideas, and concepts. I’ve not tried it but it seems like an approach that would be more in sync with my default alternative approach.

I just learned about this, in my 40’s, and my son was in elementary school. He also has it. 

We talked to his teacher and then the school counselor, and then 6 other school counselors from the county. None of them had ever heard of this, had zero training, and yet, they were all very, very interested, intrigued, and then wondered why they never heard of it. (This is is a very large, affluent county.) 

We decided that my son would be the one to mention it to a teacher if something seemed like it required non-aphantasia to do well. And, if so, he’d either be coached, or provided with an alternate requirement. 

He just stared a new grade at a new school, and mentioned this to a couple of teachers and they both were interested. 

So far, we don’t feel like a new curriculum would be necessary, as schools currently don’t make students memorize 1000 minerals, or recite all the presidents in order; they are more interested in learning. 

He’s gotten a couple of slightly altered assignments which many students may find harder, but he finds doable. 

Regarding your statement on college requirements — I have a Master’s degree, and I taught college for 4 years. I firmly believe that college degrees need to be reduced in courses and hours, and remove a bunch of the “rounding” stuff. I got an Engineering Bachelors, which required 150 hours, vs. the standard 120 – that right there is a bit of a sham. I’ll stop before I digress too far. 

I already posted a comment on your other post about foreign language so i won’t address that but as to the rest. I am pretty sure that some things will just be out of some people’s reach. I doubt many students would be able to memorize that many minerals. So in this case i would say that mineralogy is just not accessible to people without an intense interest in it. After all if a person isn’t able to identify minerals they probably should not be a mineralogist. And of course i doubt that’s a required course unless you are getting a degree in that field.

Should we have our own learning plan. Maybe, but then again i have never super struggled with university at least not because of that. My learning disability in math has affected me more than dealing with this. I think in many ways this comment is just a long way to say that some people should not go to college. Not everyone is good at it, not everyone is able to do it or even should do it.