If the child is not given mathematics and all other subjects

– Murashova, you will sit down with Tarasov and help him to learn go math 1st grade! – ordered the teacher of mathematics somewhere near the end of the seventh grade.

– And this is why ?! I grinned like a teenager. We were not supposed to argue and argue with the teacher. But the system was allowed to ask questions and even officially encouraged (“on the ground” – mostly hypocritical, of course): be sure to ask if you do not understand something.

– But because! – answered the teacher. – Go and sit down.

Even the most lively of us rarely dared to openly protest. They acted by the method of quiet but stubborn sabotage. Every time, coming to the lesson, the mathematics teacher saw me in the same place – by the window, next to my friend Svetka.

– Murashova, change your seat! She growled in a muffled tone.

I was emphatically slowly packing my things into my briefcase and just as slowly, leg by leg, trudged to the last desk, the column against the wall, where Serezha Tarasov sat alone with his head down and by studying go math second grade.

Why Murashova was imprisoned with Tarasov
Personally, I had nothing against Seryozha. He was a large, loose, quiet student and never only did nothing bad to me, but even, it seems, never even spoke to me. He appeared with us either in the fourth or in the fifth grade, remaining in the second year.

He communicated … “And with whom did he, in fact, communicate?” – I thought, once again being next to Seryozha and surreptitiously examining his large, almost male hands with nails circled in a mourning border.

Thinking, I did not remember (Seryozha was always outside the sphere of my attention), but rather decided that he was probably communicating with two more equally hopeless and quiet Losers (we still had ideological Losers, hooligans, and this is a completely different matter! ): Cyril (who is almost sixteen already) and Igor. Who else?

After the call, when we all rushed into the corridor in a crowd, the teacher irritatedly ordered: “Murashova, stay!”

“Morality will read and threaten,” I thought. “The change is gone.”

– Murashova, can I talk to you as an adult? – asked the teacher. It was a win-win move on her part.

“Yes, of course, Marya Petrovna,” I replied.

– Me, the whole school needs you to sit with Tarasov and help him. He understands absolutely nothing in mathematics and other subjects and, most likely, will never understand. But we need him to graduate from school with a certificate for the eighth grade …

– In short, the school needs to get rid of him as soon as possible, but will they not praise you for the certificate? – adolescents often understand adulthood as open cynicism.

Marya Petrovna sighed heavily and cut herself short.

– Tarasov is older than you and your classmates, his stay in our school makes no sense, it’s too late to transfer him to another, special school, the sooner he ends up in life, the more chances he will have to find at least some place in it … They will help him at the exams, but he needs to be able to understand this help and use it correctly …

– Is it that bad? – I was surprised.

“You’re a smart, albeit unpleasant girl,” the mathematician admitted. – Look for yourself.

Research tasks attracted me from early childhood, and empathy was downright diminished. I was going to become a scientist and discover the secrets of nature.

“Yes,” I said. – I’ll try to see.

Can you read?
Two days later, I found out that Seryozha did not know the multiplication table. This didn’t seem like a big problem to me. I brought my old iron pencil case to school, on the back of which this table was printed, and told Seryozha to look at the pencil case. It took me another week to discover that Seryozha does not understand the very essence of multiplication. At this moment we went through, it seems, the decomposition of square trinomials.

I told Seryozha to write off everything from me, while she continued to observe. A week later, picking the paint on the desk with my fingernail, looking to the side and carefully trying not to put any emotions into my question at all, I asked:

– Seryozha, do you know how to read?

– I can, of course, what are you doing! – Seryozha exclaimed hotly. – In textbooks – there I don’t understand, of course, no belmes, but in general I can! I can even magazines! Here is Cyril …

– What Kirill?

– Cyril – he can hardly read the letters, he knows letters and if simple words, like mom-dad, and if complex, then that’s all, only if he guesses …

I sat in silence, putting new information in my head. The landscape was truly insane.

– Listen, Seryozha, but you in class, when Marya Petrovna speaks, do you understand anything?

– What are you! Of course not! – Seryozha waved his hand. “I don’t understand anything at all. Well, it’s as if the motor is running, and that’s it.

– How long has it been? – I myself heard a tremor in my voice.

– Yes, it has always been like this … Well, from the third grade for sure.

– And you go to school like this every day for eight years, sit six lessons at a desk, and … and … the noise of motors ?! How can you stand it ?!

– Yes, you do not blame! – Seryozha chuckled good-naturedly. – I have adapted for a long time. I sit, think about something, remember how we went fishing with my father when I was little …

– Where is your father now?

– He died when I was ten years old. I drank some rubbish and got drunk.

This was a level of frankness that was beyond the limit for us at that time. I got scared and quickly brought the conversation back to school.

– And what, you don’t understand a single teacher?

– But why? At work I understand everything and I can do it. In drawing or physical education – why not understand there? Only I don’t like it. And here’s another … remember, in the fifth grade we had a botany teacher? Not for long? That’s what she said, I understood everything, I was even surprised myself.

I dropped my head on my hands folded on the desk and sat like that for a long time. Then she looked at her neighbor:

– Well, Seryozha, let’s at least try …

As if a motor is running in my head
On that day, my view of the world changed significantly. And it was these changes that I actualized forty years later, when a fourth-grader Seryozha was brought to my appointment and he said:

– The teacher in the lesson says something – boo-boo-boo! – and I seem to hear, but I don’t understand at all … As if there is a motor in my head …

I told my parents about Seryozha Tarasova. About tens, hundreds, thousands of children who, all these years and right now, like this, practically not understanding anything, have been sitting for years in a variety of schools – from prestigious gymnasiums to the most simple ones. About an American boy who, unable to read, managed to graduate from college, become an English teacher and work at school for 17 years (then he learned to read and wrote a book about the nightmares of his illiterate childhood and growing up).

Parents and Seryozha himself looked at me with round eyes. They never seem to have considered their problem from the population side.

– And what, – the mother asked cautiously, – all these children … Are they, in fact, sick? With violations? Is it congenital? Well, I’ve read about all this: dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia … Some say it can be treated, you need to drink medicine and all sorts of procedures for the brain; others say that we do a lot, and we are already doing what we do, he already began to pull out his hair and that week said: why was I born at all!

And the third – come to our amazing school, and for your big money we will provide your child with an individual approach. Our friends with a similar problem went to this: they work only for this school, but it’s a little use, there are four people in the class, and after each lesson there is a game pause for half an hour, and they are fed five times, and they simply do not require anything, what did they do? and well, this is such a humanistic way of teaching.

And the fourth say: this is how they are, and nothing will help. Then maybe just keep up with him? Didn’t your Cyril and Seryozha somehow adapt themselves? And that American boy?

What to do?
“I don’t know,” I said honestly. – It seems to me that there is not and cannot be a universal recipe. Medical problems such as organic brain damage, of course, must be looked for and excluded. If the intellect is normal, we must look further.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of technique. When there was literal instruction in Russian parish schools: az-buki-vedi, only six out of ten children learned to read using this method. When sound teaching came along, the literacy situation jumped forward. Now there are children who cannot study at all, for example, according to the Peterson method. We change the methodology – they learn, if not perfectly, then quite satisfactorily.

Sometimes – just an overlap of parental ambitions: they shoved a humanities child into a mat school, two years passed, and he had a complete blockage along the main bush of objects, he figuratively covered his head with his hands and did not even try to do anything. If you don’t crush him into a pancake, quickly pick him up from this school and honestly explain (to the child and to yourself) what happened, then, most likely, everything will be straightened out.

The main thing, it seems to me, is to catch this moment: the child is sitting in the lesson with the engine on – boo-boo-boo! And not one such lesson (this happens to everyone), and not even one subject …

If you caught it, then tell the child: we understand what is happening, you are not alone with this nightmare, we will all work with it and we will definitely come up with something. We will cooperate, not fight and not close our eyes – do you understand? And your place in this world definitely exists, and we will do everything to help you find it and take it, but right now you need this specifically …

By the way, Seryozha Tarasov from my childhood by the end of the eighth grade confidently distinguished the object from the subject and was able to solve the problem in two steps. True, he copied the rest from me, but even from these small achievements (for the first time it became clear to him what exactly he was doing at school) he lost weight, perked up and his nails became clean …

Little Seryozha looked hopefully at his parents. The mother got up from the chair, took a step forward and impetuously embraced her son.

And I mentally conveyed greetings to Seryozha from my childhood and wished him, wherever he was now, all the best luck and prosperity.