Why Johnny can read

We live in an age that increasingly characterizes learning handicaps among children. Perhaps in time past it was just that ''he has trouble reading,'' whereas now it is ''he has a learning disability.'' These days, much more attention is given to identifying children with special learning problems so that specialized help can be prescribed. Yet in many cases even the best professional aid fails to remedy the problem.

A child's ability to learn is actually derived from his Father-Mother God, because God, infinite Mind, is the only real source of intelligence. So, from a spiritual perspective, he can't really be deprived of this ability.

Through an understanding of God's creation of man, Christian Science presents a healing solution to even the most severe learning problems. Such healing restores the normal, unbounded, spiritually based capacities of the individual.

All this begins by our understanding that man is not simply the product of biology, a complex physical system in which one small deficiency can cause huge problems. In truth, man is the child, the image, of God, and God is not definable in terms of ''brain'' or ''biology,'' but rather almighty creative Spirit, as Christ Jesus taught. Man therefore must be defined as spiritual. This fact is central to Mary Baker Eddy's n1 explanation of Christian Science. In answer to the question ''What is man?'' she says: ''Man is not matter; he is not made up of brain, blood, bones, and other material elements. The Scriptures inform us that man is made in the image and likeness of God.'' n2

n1 Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.

N2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 475.

An unbreakable relationship exists between the divine Mind, God, and Mind's offspring, man. By reason of this spiritual relationship, those qualities we associate with learning - intelligence, acuity, discrimination, perception - can't actually be lacking in anyone.

The bud of a flower attains its full growth before it begins to blossom. The blossoming is beautiful, but the growth is already complete. The child - in his real spiritual being - is already a complete creation. Knowledge that the child's development in no way hinges upon growth of the cranium can help us reverse any discouragement resulting from the viewpoints of teachers or other professionals or even from our own experience helping the child learn. And such knowledge can support and enrich our own and teachers' efforts as the child learns.

Our primary job, then, is to recognize what already belongs to the child by reason of his relationship to God. Of course, this in no way removes the responsibility to help in whatever way is required. Instead it ensures progress because we're working from the standpoint of what is eternally true of each child.

It was once my responsibility to teach a young man to read whom experts felt had nearly zero capacity to learn. My young friend and I set up regular hours each day in which we worked one-to-one. And we made some progress. But soon his initial rapid progress slowed and then halted. We needed something more.

Both this young man and I had, as a practice, trusted God all our lives to meet challenges like this one. I did not specifically pray for him. But I did pray for myself to elevate my concept of him. Then one morning as we worked on the reading program, I understood clearly that I could not fail to see that he was right then inseparable from God, complete in God's creating. I saw that learning for him was not a matter of repeating and repeating and repeating, as if we were trying to drive a nail. Rather, it was a matter of recognizing what was already there, discerning his actual, unlimited nature as the very image of the one divine Mind.

Suddenly, in the middle of that lesson, he picked up his pace of reading. He began to recognize words that I knew he knew. Although he is still learning, he is now quite clearly a reader.

All the precious children in this world have access to their indivisible relationship with God. And that explains once and for all why Johnny can read! As the Bible says, ''All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.'' n3

N3 Isaiah 54:13

DAILY BIBLE VERSE God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. Genesis 1:31

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