Thursday, January 15, 2009
uk_news/england/manchester/7828121.stm Have been listening to a long sympathetic BBC radio interview with an educator saying he is talking rubbish and that the only reason there is no dyslexia in Nicaragua & Korea is because they speak Spanish & Korean
True neurological dyslexia exists, but it is extremely rare, closer to 1% than 5%. Alas, up to 20% of pupils have been diagnosed as dyslexic. One problem is that "dyslexic" and "dyslexia" have no actual medical meaning: it just means that the subject can't read, and says nothing about why; but the implication is that the dyslexic have some form of neurological disorder, and therefore can't be taught to read by ordinary teachers and parents, and thus teachers and schools must not be blamed when the kids don't learn to read.
And that is dangerous hogwash. When I asked my mother, who taught first grade in rural Florida schools (and who was always a bit ashamed that she had only a 2 year Associate degree from the Florida Teachers College in Orlando, not a full college degree from a university) if any of the hundreds of pupils she had in first grade left unable to read, she said that a very few didn't learn to read -- "But they didn't learn anything else, either." The notion that a child of reasonable intelligence would not learn to read English in first grade was alien. She expected all the children to learn, and they did. She had never heard of dyslexia.
In these days of children who don't speak English there are complications that weren't usual in rural Florida in the 1920's, but the number of children with real dyslexia hasn't changed.
For those who know people of any age from 5 to adult who cannot read English and need to learn it, see my wife's web page http://www.readingtlc.com and pay attention. Roberta's reading program works, and it will teach anyone of reasonable intelligence (that is, not pretty obviously retarded) to read English in about 75 lessons of half an hour each. It is based on her experience as a reading specialist' she has taught in private and public schools including the Los Angeles County juvenile justice system, and the program is based on her experience. It works. Understand that by "able to read" we don't mean "read at grade level" or read books with limited vocabulary. We mean read any book in the English language. Clearly we don't mean that 2nd graders will understand a Dickens novel, but there is no reason that child cannot read the book. We don't mean anyone will understand polymorphicaldiethyltoluene because there isn't any such thing, but if you can read English you can read that word, and there's no reason a first grader cannot -- painstakingly -- read it.
This is lifted from Jerry Pournelle's site - I sent him the link after hearing the BBC Radio reporting of this which included no words from Graham Stringer the Labour MP who was sufficiently honest & politically incorrect to say this & a long sympathetic interview with an "educator" in which she made the astonishing claim that the reason there is no dyslexia in Nicaragua & Korea is because those languages are structured in such a way that dyslexia is impossible, unlike English. While this is the only possible answer other than to say that our "educators" are incompetent it is quite obviously complete rubbish & yet the BBC interviewer said not a word to question it.
Even the Scotsman's report on this is loaded
DYSLEXIA experts and charities have refuted controversial claims that the condition is a "fictional malady" created by the education profession to cover up bad teaching of reading and writing.
Graham Stringer, the MP for Manchester Blackley, said the dyslexia "industry" should be killed off through the "magic bullet" of teaching children to read and write using a phonetic system.
"The sooner (dyslexia] is consigned to the same dustbin of history the better," wrote the Labour back-bencher in his online column for the Manchester Confidential website.
He also suggested there was a link between illiteracy and crime, claiming that Strangeways Prison in his constituency was 80 per cent full of people unable to read and write.
However, Dr Robin Pauc, who runs the Tilsley House clinic for children with learning problems in Hampshire, said: "I think he is barking up the wrong tree. There is no doubt that dyslexia exists. You can't blame educationists. Dyslexia is global."
Dr Pauc also rejected Mr Stringer's claims that if dyslexia really existed, countries as diverse as Nicaragua and South Korea would not have been able to achieve literacy rates of nearly 100 per cent. He said: "My first book was reprinted in South Korea, so why would they want a translation of a book on it if the condition does not exist there?" since any article which starts saying the argument has been "refuted" rather than "disputed" is neither impartial nor accurate.