Volume 3 #8 June
When I first
started teaching dyslectic students back in 1969, they
were scooped up a few at a time from each school and bussed
to a small school-house in the morning for lessons. It
was a disaster, as the other kids immediately labeled the
bus “the dummy bus”. So they changed the system
and put one teacher in each school.
Well, that didn’t
work, either, because the State Board of Education, in
its infinite wisdom, decided that there were three categories
of kids who couldn’t learn properly in the usual
school setting but were entitled to an education, anyhow.
So they classified them as retarded, dyslectic, and emotionally
disturbed and began requiring special classes for them.
And that didn’t work, either, because the parents of the retarded kids
understandably objected to having their kids labeled stupid. So the DoE, in
a futile effort to please everybody, lumped all the kids into one category
called Children with Special Needs. And they set up something called Special
Education, or SPED, which was to solve everything.
And that didn’t
work, either, because then school systems began lumping
all the SPED kids into something called Resource Rooms
which were supposed to be taught by teachers who were specialists
in all kinds of problems. Now since the teaching techniques
appropriate to dyslectic, retarded, and emotionally disturbed
students are all different, resource rooms were totally
ineffective—-at least for the kids with dyslexia,
many of whom were brighter than average and weren’t
delighted to be in classes with super-slow ones, or little
wise-guys who laughed at a student who couldn’t spell.
So that didn’t
work, either. Now we have something even more expensive
and less effective, called the inclusion method. Here a
dyslectic kid has an aide (read that, baby-sitter) who
goes with him to class, explains the assignment and what
the teacher is saying. This is embarrassing for the student,
horrendously expensive and doesn’t do the one thing
that the dyslectic student needs, which is to LEARN TO
becomes a respectable word I suggest that the extra-curricular
courses in school be art, music, gym, computers, and linguistics.
If a child were in a linguistics class and his pals asked
him what he did there, he could say, “Mostly we study
how words are put together, and we learn a lot of spelling
rules and extra grammar. I like it, because I can’t
spell worth a nickel and this helps me keep out of trouble
with the teachers.”
In this country,
there is no shame in being a lousy speller. I have even
seen gross mistakes on the captions on CNN! If you can’t
read, you are a dummy. If you can’t spell, well,
neither can most people very well, and there are always
wives, secretaries and spell-check programs to bail out
the worst of us.
Now the funny
thing is that if you pour spelling rules by the bucket
into the left hemisphere of a child’s brain, he will-
- guess what? – LEARN TO READ! Yes, he may even learn
to spell pretty well. But as I said. . . . .
either? No wonder, since the last time spelling rules were
taught systematically was in the early 1900’s. Most
spelling today is nothing more than memorizing a list every
week. Very unhelpful. At the end of the web site, dyslexia.org,
the spelling rules are collected in a usable form. I’ll
bet you never heard of some of them.