"I never failed once. It just happened to be a 2,000 step process."
In her digital story, posted on Storycorps, Eileen Kushner recounts how she was able to learn how to add by using McDonald's containers. During her entire scholastic career, Eileen experienced difficulty adding and writing. When she was in her mid-thirties, she was diagnosed with a processing disorder. Eileen describes the disorder as a "door in my brain (that) would drop and....(not) allow me to process any of the information."
As a result of her disorder, Eileen avoided working. She married Larry Kushner and, together, they had three children. Since Larry was a bank teller, the family had a difficult time making ends meet. When finances became so tight that there was not enough food in the refrigerator, Eileen decided that she would need to enter the workforce. She procured a job at McDonald's and, for a time, all was well. She enjoyed the work and did so well that her boss decided to promote her.
To the cash register.
Eileen was terrified. Back then (1960s), there were no automated cash registers. McDonald's employees had to manually total the bill and return the correct amount of change. Fearing that her employer would discover that she could not add, Eileen told Larry that she was going to quit. Larry decided that he was going to help Eileen learn to add.
So, he came home from work one day holding a wad of cash, mostly fives, ones, and coins. A few days later, Eileen brought home some fry, burger, and drink containers. The two then "played McDonald's." Larry would place orders and Eileen would calculate the totals and return the change. After enough practice, Eileen felt confident enough to take the promotion. She continued to rise up in the ranks and, eventually, Eileen and Larry owned and operated five McDonald's restaurants.
When asked if she saw herself differently after achieving so much, Eileen cited the famous Edison quote, "I never failed once. It just happened to be a 2,000 step process."
Using Ohler's Digital Storytelling Assessment Traits, I chose to critique this story on the following traits: Story, Economy, and Flow.
All in all, this was an inspiring story about one woman's will to overcome her lifelong math disability. I would recommend it to anyone who works with students with disabilities or likes a good underdog story.
Please feel free to leave your comments below.
I am a Special Education teacher currently pursuing his Master of Arts in Information & Learning Technologies (Option: K-12) at CU Denver. I work at Boulder High School in Boulder, CO. Here you will find my thoughts on education.