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Volume 3 #1 September
Suppose you had a little boy of eight or nine who is as
musical as Mozart, you have just inherited a piano from your
great Aunt Minnie, and there is a blind pianist in the neighborhood
who plays beautifully and loves to teach. Naturally you start
the kid on lessons.
But every time your little boy sits down at the piano to
practise, he is unknowingly wearing invisible ski gloves.
When he just can’t get his fingers to move
quickly no matter how hard he tries, he gets frustrated. The teacher, who is
a well-known expert, blames the little boy for not working hard enough. But
one day you get sick at work, come home early and as you are hanging up your
coat, you hear his efforts at practising. It sounds awful. You go in and with
your Mother’s Special Vision, you see right away what the matter is.
You remove the gloves, and everybody lives happily ever after. Isn’t
Of course if you can see what’s the matter, a problem
may get solved. But in dyslexia, you can’t see what
is going on in somebody’s brain.
Even if the child appears bright enough, if he can’t learn to read
like the rest of the class, his teacher, unable to see what is the matter
assumes he is either dumb or has an attitude. But there is no excuse for
her to assume he is stupid. If she has had any training as a SPED teacher,
certainly must have been exposed to the federal definition of dyslexia,
which includes the phrase “....average or above average intelligence”.
There are articles all over the place saying that the dyslectic child has
a normal intelligence. Even Oprah Winfrey had a doctor on her program once
explained that the dyslectic child was not dumb, he was just wired differently
and needed to be taught differently. How much more publicity can you get?
The nasty truth is that there probably aren’t 100 public school teachers
in this whole country ( probably the whole world, if it comes to that) that
have read enough neurological journals to know what causes dyslexia. Unfortunately
there are thousands of school psychologists who don’t read either.
I heard one of these a few years ago tell a parent that there was no such
as dyslexia; her son read badly because he was emotionally identifying
with his non-reading papa (who, I assume, was emotionally identifying with
Grandpapa, who was. . . . . )
I have had a number of students with IQ’s in the 130 to 140 range (140
will get you into Mensa) and one little ball of fire who clocked in at 170.
He couldn’t read, either. Clearly the problem is not that the students
aren’t bright. Well then, is it the teachers who aren’t very --
-, shall we just say, motivated to embrace a novel idea? Of course not. A smart,
energetic teacher who wants to try something innovative must buck principals,
SPED directors, supervisors, and school superintendents who aren’t eager
to embrace a novel idea. But the idea is not novel. Don’t they read?
If you are going to teach English spelling, get used to
doing a lot of apologizing. I often tell students, “Hey,
don’t look at me funny. I don’t make these rules.
I just teach ‘em.” The RfS program helps by assembling
some notorious messes into groups: bomb, tomb, numb, etc.,
the silent t’s: nestle, hustle, often, etc., and everybody’s
favorite, the silent –gh’s. These come near the
end of the program when the student is pretty good and doesn’t
feel particularly threatened.
But what do you do about the ridiculous fact that “er”, “ir”,
and “ur”, all sound alike? Reading them is easy.
But how about spelling? The best you can do is point out
that “er” is the most common because of coming
at the end of comparative adjectives—better, larger,
etc. For the rest? Ask somebody.
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2002 - Vol. 1, #10
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2002 - Vol. 1, #9
2003 - Vol. 2, #9
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2002 - Vol. 1, #7
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2001 - Vol. 1, #5
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2001 - Vol. 1, #3
2002 - Vol. 2, #2
2001 - Vol. 1, #2
2002 - Vol. 2, #1
2001 - Vol. 1, #1
2002 - Vol. 1, #11