Saturday, 27 November 2010

Dyslexia – go to it Gove – get 'em reading.

Reading should not only inform, it should be a pleasure. Can you imagine what it must be like as a young child to know that everybody else has cracked this thing called Reading and you just can't get it?

Can you imagine what it would be like as an adult not to read a novel for pleasure, a document for information, a safety notice? Not to get a job? Ask anyone who is severely dyslexic and they will most probably not tell you. Imagine why. Throughout their school life they will have been labelled lazy, stupid or simply slow.

If an obviously inquisitive, intelligent child who has been having regular lessons cannot read up to the level of his 'reading age' by the time he is seven years old then there is a reason. He is inquisitive and intelligent – he should have a reading age two years above his chronological age (weird way to assess these things, I know, but who are we?)

Talking this week about those children who are well behind in their reading, Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, is quite right when he says "more of the same type of teaching will not be of use to them". For a dyslexic child in particular, a remedial teacher is not suitable – these kids are bright and their specific word blindness needs a specialist teacher.

They (and all those having problems) need to be assessed by a specialist. Teachers are not trained to do so. A dyslexic child (or adult) needs a reading and writing programme especially designed for them. The extra lessons they need are usually carried out in small groups lasting about 45 minutes. Depending on the severity of their dyslexia they may need one or two lessons a week, for a couple of years.

After this, most of these children should be well above their reading age in a couple of years. Once they are reading fluently every subject is available to them. Given this sort of help from an early age, these children should go on to be above average performers reaching university standard.

Many will choose sciences or engineering (which involve less prose!) and their different way of interpreting information can result in particularly creative academics. Think of those who were labelled dumb – the mathematical genius and physicist, Albert Einstein; the electrical scientist, Thomas Edison, who was terrible at maths; Paul McCready, the aeronautical engineer: just the sort technical talent that this country is crying out for!

But given no help, most will be frustrated, many will become withdrawn or resigned, some disruptive and a few will, without qualifications, use their wits to nefarious ends.

And those who do not shine at something to get them through – perhaps mathematics or sports – will probably suffer from low-self esteem. Not to identify those who need help to learn to read, is not only a waste of intelligence and a loss to our talent pool, but a shame on our school system. So, Go to it Gove!


1 comment:

Leon Cych said...

Except I doubt they will get that provisioning. The present government seems fixated on synthetic phonics which does not help dyslexic children in the least.

Far better to provision early reading strategies from birth. Most teachers are aware that children have a problem on entry - quite what the problem is is another matter. Up to now this has been costly and slow due to quotas - I doubt this will improve.