Dyslexia rules KO!

Aside from the obvious 'fun' that this quote has (I have it as an email signature, along with 'Don't anthropomorphise computers - they hate that'), there is a serious side to this which I've only recently become aware of. I've tried to use a wee pun here too, i.e. that Dyslexia, the biological condition needs to be 'KOed' as in 'Knocked Out' from the boxing ring.

If you follow the received wisdom then most of us can learn how to read, but a number of us have got some sort of biological (probably neuro-anatomical) inconsistency that makes it hard for us to learn how to read, or spell, or both. Those that fall into this unfortunate condition are called 'dyslexics'. 

I say 'unfortunate' because it turns out that if you can't read or write in our modern society you're pretty much f*!^ed! There's more than enough literature to show that most dyslexics score poorly in various quality of life indices later on in life. Of course there are notable exceptions of diagnosed dyslexics who succeed spectacularly (e.g. Richard Branson) but the majority don't. 

Some of the children at our school do have reading and/or writing problems and the natural inclination is to think of them as perhaps falling into this 'unfortunate' category of dyslexia, and this was the impetus for me to hunt around the literature to find out what dyslexia actually is, how to tell who is really dyslexic and (worst case scenario) how to manage the condition.

So this is what I've found.

My own conceptions of dyslexia are completely wrong - along with the vast majority of the people that I know, both professional educators, research educators, and of course both parents and individuals categorised as dyslexics. My springboard into this is the fantastic site http://www.dyslexics.org.uk. Go right to the source here. In a nutshell dyslexia means:

You can't read!

That's it, it's just a description. It's not a condition. The fancy Greek label makes it sound like a condition, an anomaly or something abnormal. It's none of these. It's just a description, in the same way if I'm labelled 'short' it's just a description - not a disease, anomaly or something negative - just a description.

There is NO EVIDENCE that this description is anything other than that (here's a good starting place). 

The upshot of this is that since dyslexia is just a description, people who cannot read can be trained to actually read. Seemingly quite easily, although it might be 'hard' to overcome the inbuilt mind sets that adult dyslexics have. 

So why are there so many people with the label 'dyslexia'? If you believe the words of Diane McGuinness (and I for one do), then it is because of (amongst a number of factors) poor teaching logic & methodology along with a lack of understanding of how the modern English alphabet system came into play (contributing to the poor teaching).

Good news for all our school children that are in danger of being 'diagnosed' with dyslexia - there's no need to retain the description for the rest of their lives. At the Multiple Intelligence School we are now exploring the methodologies advocated for effective reading (and writing) resulting from this research. I will update our progress on this exciting adventure.

"And it seems as if Dyslexia has been floored on the mat! It's unbelievable the referee is counting him out - do we have a KO?"

Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.  -Will Durant