The Positive Side of Dyslexia

Thanks to Diane Ravitch for the link to this great article about dyslexia. Many thanks to the author, Steve Dingledine.

The current movement towards using appropriate tools in the classroom, whether it is an iPad, Chromebook, laptop, whatever, is a step in the right direction of allowing students with dyslexia — or any other learning disability, difference, or even just students who learn best in different modalities (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc.) — the chance to really be successful in school. A learning difference should not equate not being successful at school and in life.

…many dyslexics have other cognitive skills in abundance, including visualization and intuition. They can also see problems and solutions in the big-picture frame and can detect obscure patterns in unique and, at times, revolutionary ways.

The education system owes it to these kids – those with dyslexia or any other sort of learning difference – to adapt the SYSTEM to the kids. The kids shouldn’t have to suppress or ignore their natural skills in order to learn.

Dyslexics and other non-conformists need time and space to grow within school contexts. Their creative genius and divergent thinking needs to be incorporated into classrooms and not stifled.Their teachers need to have the flexibility and freedom to nurture their strengths and talents while helping them to reach their potential on their terms.

Like the author of the post, I am a textual learner. His wife is dyslexic. My daughter has not been diagnosed with dyslexia, but has considerable trouble with text based learning. She is a strong visual learner. I really appreciated this thought:

Our society, unbeknownst to me beforehand, is heavily geared to text-based learning and work activities. The emphasis on reading text, which creates “winners” and “losers” through standardized tests and entrance exams…

My (many) previous posts about my daughter’s choice for an advanced social studies course next year have focused on the responsibility of the schools to provide an adequate education for all learners — not just text based learners. It’s going to be a struggle to get them to accomodate my daughter’s needs, but why should just the kids who are text based learners have access to the advanced content and be considered “smart?”

Hopefully we’ll see things changing as schools move more towards allowing and encouraging students to make use of technology tools and the paradigm shifting that happens (or should.)