This optical illusion was published on page ten of a report offered by Grand Traverse Academy last fall. They claimed the reason why the patterns of colors move is due to ‘eye movement errors,’ or, everyone who looks at this image has eyes that don’t work properly. This claim is false. The image is an optical illusion, and there’s better explanations available using real science. Optical illusions are not a complete picture. When you look at one, your brain fills in the gaps with prior knowledge to make a full picture. “From part to whole” which Ingersoll says is the wrong way to learn.
When a clear picture of something you want to understand doesn’t exist, you’re left with filling in gaps based on your own knowledge. Public information about IVL is vague at best and there is no clear explanation of how this therapy helps children become better learners. Trying to understand what Ingersoll was doing, gaps were filled in with personal experience: Every day children are pulled out of classrooms for various reasons ranging from receiving Title I instruction in reading and math to meeting with a speech pathologist. The mistake was made in assuming Ingersoll’s schools were run in any way like a public school, so children who were evaluated needing IVL would be pulled out of class for their sessions. This assumption was enforced with the first time a reader contacted me familiar with IVL. A former student named Mallory who attended the first charter school Ingersoll opened in Livingston County recalled being in the IVL room and staring into a green light for 30 minutes.
Thanks to a parent and two teachers, IVL is becoming a little clearer. In the last month these people contacted me and described their personal experiences working with Ingersoll, and the education their children received in his for-profit charter schools. It’s obvious now people who have first hand experience don’t understand it either.
The parent who emailed me asked to remain anonymous. Their children were ‘A’ students attending an excellent public school, but they decided to enroll them in the charter school because they were interested in the school’s philosophy. They began by explaining what happened after one year at the school:
My children went from being all A public school students in a “gifted program” with higher than average MEAP scores to below grade level students with horrible MEAP scores after 1 year at Dr. Ingersoll’s school.
The parent went on to explain how this happened:
My children were in a split classroom. The same things were taught both years making my children very behind.
Split classrooms means children from more than one grade are grouped together in the same class. The challenge to teaching this way is that instructors have to differentiate instruction so multiple learning levels are being taught to kids in the same room. From what this parent describes, the same material taught the first year their children were in this classroom was what they were taught the next school year, the curriculum was not comprehensive, and it caused their children’s progress to fall behind.
What about IVL? When asked if the children were given an exam and diagnosed by Ingersoll as needing IVL, they had this to say:
My kids received IVL, as did all students there. My children were never observed for their vision, yet IVL was taught to all kids. My kids did not understand it, nor did I.
Now it makes more sense. IVL is not a pull-out program meant to help a student with their learning. This is something all children receive in class regardless of needing any help with reading skills. IVL was never part of an IEP or 504 plan because providing any service to a child without the parent having full knowledge of what is going on is illegal.
Ingersoll’s for-profit charter schools were never intended to be institutions of learning. From the beginning of these schools, either currently open or closed, had the single purpose of generating profit for Ingersoll at taxpayer expense. Academic achievement was a minor factor to peddling vision therapy to a captive audience. These schools are not improving Michigan education. They’re a detriment to it.