When my friend Ben Mitchell asked me to take on the editor role at Divergents Magazine I leapt at the opportunity—not because I have ADD and was acting on impulse, but because I knew intuitively it was the right next thing to do at this point of my life.
In July I end a 36-year career at Landmark College, a journey that took me through many roles. I spent nine years as English department chair, and then 11 years as the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College. For seven of those years I led Student Affairs as well as Academic Affairs. Since I returned to the faculty as a full professor in 2009 I have taught courses in education, composition, creative writing, literature, journalism, media studies, and leadership. Along the way I earned an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Change; my 2007 doctoral dissertation was called Toward a New Paradigm for Learning Disability.
I have learned a lot since I started working in the field of education and neurodiversity, and of course the field has changed in fundamental ways during that time. I’ve learned a lot, of course, from research, and my early mentors Jim Baucom and Jeroo Eduljee were vital influences, as have been many of my colleagues over the years.
Most of all I learned from the students I was privileged to work with. I learned about strength and resilience, I learned about hope and success, and most of all I learned that the deficit model we applied to different kinds of minds was simply wrong, and harmful, and needed to be overthrown.
It was a long journey for me, to move from a model where someone’s potential might be unlocked by fixing their broken pieces, to seeing individuals as strong and gifted just as they are, and that the differences we see as flaws and recruit to be labeled by the pharmaceutical-educational complex are just differences. All human beings are flawed and imperfect, and all humans are challenged to live full, rich, and satisfying lives. Our labels are social constructions, and any form of human diversity can be labeled as a shortcoming in a specific context.
I am looking forward to taking the editorial reins at Divergents, and in the coming months I hope to see our publication expand and grow in terms of submissions and readership, and in terms of the range of topics we cover under the vast, beautiful rainbow of human difference implied in our title and our mission. I also will be contributing regularly to these pages, on a bi-weekly basis, and you can find my first essay here.
Editor in Chief