As a mainstream, public school and college-level educator of many years, with an M.S.Ed. in science education, and a Ph.D. in educational program evaluation, I have taken many courses over the years — both as course requirements, and then in the form of continuing education workshops — to help myself better understand and serve the needs of my students. My goal was always to help each and every student thrive and learn.

One of the best experiences I ever had was taking the F.A.T City Workshop, which explained various learning disabilities, and included a series of activities designed to help us gain a viceral understanding, from the student’s point of view, of the challenges posed by various LDs. While Deafness was included in the F.A.T. City list, it was merely mentioned and then glossed over — and it seems to me now that this was a major gap in my education as a teacher.

In “The Butterfly Cage,” Rachel Zemach fills that gap, and then some! Writing from the perspective of both a Deaf student, and long-time Deaf teacher of the Deaf, Rachel enabled me to finally gain some real insight into the severe impediments to learning that we educators create for our Deaf students, by not truly understanding the nature of their experience and nature of their learning needs. (How can anyone ever hope to learn anything, without the use of a first language?!) In reading her book, I laughed at the absurdity of problems we create, cried at the trauma created by our ignorance, and found new determination in the simple solutions that we as educators can implement to help resolve so many of these issues — all by reading this little gem of a page-turner.

In my professional opinion, “The Butterfly Cage” should be required reading for all educators.

It was a joy to read.

And now, I’m off to learn a little more ASL.”