Interlude 2, Page 3

Don’t say the R-word IRL, kids. It’s a shitty word.

This might be confusing for people who are not familiar with special education, and I chose a slightly different name for the process, but he’s basically talking about an IEP. In the United States at least, parents and teachers and any other involved parties will sit down and hash out a plan on a regular basis to make sure that children with learning challenges are having their specific educational needs met.

The point of this interlude is not really to delve into details but for some further context, Linear Algebra is a college-level course that follows Calculus 1 and 2. Mike is in special education for non-academic reasons, and takes higher math classes with Toby at the junior college. This is all non-crucial for understanding, but I thought I should spell it out for anyone who’s curious, since it’s fairly specific to the American schooling system.


  • Mad

    The chewed up nails are a really subtle detail, nicely done o_o Can’t wait to see where this goes next

    • Ben

      The curtains also appear to have been tacked to the wall to block more light.

      How did Mike get approved to travel to Mars? A friend of mine is seriously pursuing a career as an astronaut, and has told me that a past diagnosis of depression or another mental illness is pretty much an automatic disqualification. Mike can’t have hidden his issues from NASA, because he’s clearly “in the system” at this point.

      • Dreadogastus

        “Any chocolate frosted left?”
        I am sure your information about current NASA standards is true. But in Mare Internum things are different. Let’s speculate: Space flight is obviously more “common” than in our pusillanimous time. Mike is just one more nerd on the regular trips to Mars. OR; (quick review of early story) many space agencies and corps are involved and standards have been loosened.

      • shingworks

        It’ll be addressed later, but a few general reasons…

        • it’s the future
        • privatization/ private sponsorship
        • lots of hoops and checkins
        • it’s difficult to find qualified people who want to go for certain positions
        • Asterai

          Scarcity economics, my favoritest thing in the entire world.

          I have a relatively rare set of talents. So much so that, indirectly, the national government paid for my entire graduate education, and that of every one of my classmates. It’s amazing the doors that low supply and high demand can open. My class was full of oddballs, me not least among them, but no one gives a shit that you’re odd if you’re also sufficiently useful.

          • Nine

            You’ve got me curious! Can I ask what you do and what your major was?

          • Asterai

            Nine, I can’t reply directly to your comment, not sure why. Hope you find this.

            I went to school for physics. Undergraduate education follows the usual pay-model, but once you’re through that and a grad school accepts you, other measures step in. There is considerable funding directed by various means to getting promising physicists – meaning, effectively, anyone who can get through a graduate program – through the education system to science and industry.

            Physics closed out the second world war via the atomic bomb. Governments do not forget that kind of thing easily. On a less dramatic scale, physics-trained people tend to be very useful in industry. And so, the US govt invests heavily in the small group of people who have the talent and inclination to seek training as physicists.

            My class was an odd group. I loved it; it was the first time in my life when I knew I was not probably the oddest person in whatever room I occupied. There was at least one guy with diagnosed ADHD, another who seemed to have asperger’s/high functioning autism, kids of scientists and kids of farmers, hyperactive nerd boys and surprisingly smart jocks. I myself spent a lot of time sitting underneath other people’s desks and drawing stuff on whiteboards (it all made sense to me at the time, won’t try to explain it here). The further up you go, the odder they get; you shoulda met our professors.

            It’s fucking beautiful when you get a chance to be part of something like that. When you’re out on the ragged edge of what humanity can and/or will do, even at the lowly level of grad student, nobody cares anymore that you’re no one’s idea of normal. They can’t afford to care whether you’re normal. If you can and will do the job, you are needed, they can’t afford to chuck you over something so insignificant as, say, a missing hand or a personality disorder or foreign citizenship or… the list goes on.

            It’s not paradise for everybody. As I said, there’s much more tolerance for oddity, but there’s also higher stress, and it disproportionately affects those who were already extended pretty far to reach that level. My class was only 20% female with no black or hispanic students. The handfull of gay students seemed to do okay, but I say that as an outsider, and the one gay professor probably did a lot to help them just by existing. I almost dropped out over issues outside my education; others did drop out. The ADHD guy was one of the ones that went. I would definitely have caved at some point if the support system had been less comprehensive.

  • DukeBG

    Happy 2016, by the way!

  • James

    Sounds more like a Behavioral Education Plan, but I’m not sure if that terminology is specific to Texas. My guess? Anxiety and anger issues.

  • DatComment

    Wow. You are really good at describing a scene with just almost background details.

  • Goo

    I like that Toby is running the Plasma Power Saver color scheme. They have good taste!

  • General ED classes… that’s sport ?

    • shingworks

      General ed= “normal” classes, as compared to special education classes, which are usually segregated from the rest of the classes.

  • Localized


  • Jojo

    He looks so horrified at “General ED classes.”

  • James

    IEPs are called PEPs in the UK. Some of my students have them, not because of any special educational need, but because they’re in the care system. Unaccompanied asylum seekers from very dangerous parts of Africa, and a couple from Syria, so very, very glad to be in the UK, and I’m very glad to be able to help them.

  • Thrawcheld

    Huh. I’ve never come across a woman named Toby. It’s firmly a boy’s name on this side of the pond.

    • StClair

      Naming conventions change over time, too. (There’s a great set of bubble animations on Youtube showing this, one for male names and one for females.)

  • tiny potato

    I feel this so hard. Having my autonomy taken away in highschool by the special ed program definitely did me no favors. It fuckin sucked.

  • Camolot the Creator

    Yeah, I’ve had to deal with operating under a PEP plan. This is mostly due to the fact that I regularly flunked classes and didn’t turn in homework, but aced tests with a 90+ percentage with minimal to no studying.
    I was a weird kid.
    Now I’m an irresponsibly weird adult.
    Go figure.

    • Warden

      Ha! Definitely know this experience, sans being under an IEP/PEP plan. Maybe because this was before they were a thing, or my parents felt too ashamed and everyone simply held out hope that I would someday do my homework again; which never did happen. Teachers had a love/hate relationship with me.

  • They were called IEP in my day.

  • supercairebear

    oh my god I can totally relate. growing up with mental illnesses and being put in sped and programs and experimental therapy makes you feel totally hopeless.

  • SotiCoto

    “Retarded” just means slow.

    I use the word to vast disapproval from strangers on a very regular basis precisely because it just means slow.

    Because from my personal perspective… most of them are. Socially-dependent, dull-witted fools. And there are few things quite as isolating as being a lone reasonably competent individual in a sea of overconfident imbeciles.

    So yeah. “Retarded” is a word that works fine… for most people.

    • shingworks

      You can’t really separate the word’s dictionary meaning from it’s social meaning, though. Like yeah you could call someone a Mongoloid and explain they have similar features to a person from Mongolia but at that point you’re being intentionally obtuse. For the record, do not use that word on this site again.

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