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Friday, January 23, 2009


A few days ago I put up an item on the claim by Labour MP Graham Stringer that dyslexia as a medical condition was nonexistent being merely an excuse by the education establishment for them letting so many kids leave school functionally illiterate.

This was reported by Jerry Pournelle which produced a discussion from which excerpts are put below. It is clear he exaggerated but not by much - there are very occasional medical conditions but it could be thousandths as many as claimed.

Note the extent & manner of coverage. At least 90% of it has been openly opposing him as a Google-search shows. It has been filled with quotes from the educational mafia but, with the exception of his original remarks, none from him. Certainly no hint of debate, impartiality or anything but denigration on the grounds that it is "absurd & offensive", or “plain wrong” or "shows this ignorance exists at the very highest levels in the country" without any real attempt to say why (though the last does explain of dyslexia
"The cross party group on dyslexia has been working hard on coming up with a definition of dyslexia that all 32 local authorities across Scotland will recognise,” Colin said.

“Because no two people are the same it makes it very hard to define it.
Apparently I am not alone in thinking that is not a useful definition of any illness but just a grab-bag excuse. This seems a common response because the article then explains "“When you tell them that no two dyslexics are the same it raises eyebrows.”

What we are seeing is the establishment & their trained media mobbing a politician doing what is his plain duty - to try to improve our educational system.

Here is a letter I sent to the Herald (& a couple of variants to others). Despite having published 2 letters attacking Stringer they published neither mine nor any other disagreeing.
Graham Stringer MP's brave (one might say suicidal) decision to say that dyslexia is a fraud used to provide protection for incompetent "educators" brings out 2 letters today (Friday) disagreeing. Both are from educators & neither explains why dyslexia is so relatively unknown in Nicaragua & Korea, the examples Mr Stringer uses.

I heard a long & sympathetic interview on BBC radio on Wednesday with an educator answering that precise point. She said Mr Stringer's point that dyslexia could not be inherent because it doesn't occur (at least at anything approaching our rates) in Nicaragua & Korea was wrong because Korean & Spanish are so structured that that, among their speakers alone, dyslexia is impossible. While the interviewer accepted this without question I must admit I found it unconvincing.

The alternative would be that he is right and that, however hysterical the "educators" get the facts are against them
Now maybe that letter isn't up to the usual literary standard og Heral letters or as logically argued but I don't think so. The only other option is that they decided not to print anything siding with Stringer quite deliberately.
From Pournelle's blog:

"There have also been some interesting studies which purported to show genetic markers associated with specific kinds of dyslexia. It's far too early to say categorically that any of the types of dyslexia are genetic in origin (or rather, that individuals are genetically pre-disposed to dyslexia), but it's a promising area of research. There's a good overview at
Of course, that's not to say "oh, he's dyslexic" isn't used as an excuse from parents for the poor reading skills of their children. But Mr Stringer's assertion that it's a "fictional malady" invented by teachers to cover up poor teaching is, basically, bunk."

"Actual neurological dyslexia exists and there are varieties as well as a distribution of severities. The simplest is difficulty in distinguishing between the letter p and q, and d and b. There are training techniques which will allow many of those which this difficulty to learn how to overcome it. The prevalence of actual physiological dyslexia is not certain but one study found a fairly small number of such in examining a large number of students diagnosed as dyslexic. Mrs. Pournelle as the reading teacher of last resort in the LA County juvenile justice system received hundreds of "dyslexic" students. They all learned to read. Some of those cases took hard work. Others were a bit simpler: the child needed spectacles. One could call poor but correctable eyesight "dyslexia" and be perfectly correct, in that the cause was physiological and the student couldn't read, but I don't see how that's useful.

Roberta would receive inch thick files showing that the school system had not failed: this kid couldn't read because the kid "had" dyslexia. The diagnosis is of course a self-fulfilling prophecy: since the child is dyslexic he can't learn to read, so it would be a waste of time to try to teach him, so -- The fortunate ones were incarcerated by the courts and ended up in Roberta's classroom where they learned to read."

"the "diagnosis: dyslexia means nothing other than "he can't read." If there were some "disease" called dyslexia you did nothing to cure it, yet the student made progress. While true neurological dyslexia exists, it is rare, and requires different techniques from teaching reading to other students........ Dyslexia is not a useful diagnosis because it says nothing about why the student can't read (in your case the problem was letter discrimination -- was his eyesight tested?)"

"My quarrel is not with the concept that there are physiological factors in failure to learn to read, but with the term "dyslexia" which says the kid can't read, but it can't possibly be because the kid was never taught to read. It's not the teacher's fault that this kid is poor protoplasm."

Mrs Pournelle's reading programme which, since it can teach virtually all these kids in prison to read must be the real deal.

What we are seeing is the establishment & their trained media mobbing a politician doing what is his plain duty - to try to improve our educational system.

Nooo! It is his duty to abolish the education system! These government schools are the first step in educating docile subjects who will meekly accept being controlled by their "betters". The very existence of the state schools is a public assertion by the state that its' subjects are incapable of meeting their own needs and therefore the state must manage their lives for them. The students, learning well this unstated assertion of the state have since expanded the state's powers into more areas of their lives, leading to total control.

Abraham Lincoln said that the doctrine of the schoolhouse in one generation becomes the doctrine of the statehouse in the next. Even if free elections are held in a country with a public school system, the outcome has already been determined in advance by what the children have been taught as children, making any such election a farce.
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