Going to a dyslexia course..

I thought this would be brilliant as I know people, big and small, who are dyslexic. I want to know more, to understand. I want to know; how we know, how to work out if someone thinks differently, what skills they have that I can help foster because I can only see thinking differently as an important skill. I look around and see that the world is a bit wrong, especially in the environment and poverty department, so it is time for something new. We need new thinking. One session into this course and I am distressed. The course, so far, was all about teaching 5 year olds, those creative geniuses, to read…

I look at structural literacy and think woohoo I could learn to spell, except that I couldn’t because structural literacy comes with binary rules and as soon as that happens I get confused, then there is more jargon to learn…. oh and wait I have predictive text and spell check so why would I. See what I did there, I made a choice over my learning…. I can see that there are useful aspects of structural literacy but it’s not for me. I want kids to get to choose like this. The instructor was keen and a terribly nice person but still it was all talk of that awful reading group stuff, telling the kids what they are going to do, they even talked about games to make it fun. I can picture the classroom in my mind and the multitude of children gathered round…. They talked about getting rid of the idea of reaching green/yellow or whatever it is (it’s an example of binary rules that I find hard) readers by the end of the first year of school. The tutor held up a nice structured spiral bound document to finally get us away from this colour level malarkey but it has such delightful chapters as “year two of school”… so now we are basing it on knowing CVCC combinations (C for consonant, V Vowel). Same old, same old, just different clothes. It was all about making everyone the same. There was no mention of the fact that lots of 5 year olds should not be undergoing the indignity of learning to read until they are both developmentally ready and they want to. You have to stop moving to read and some have to master that, some are so overwhelmed by the other children. There must be something we can’t see that happens in the brain to get kids reading, something that goes on line and opens doors but doesn’t have a date stamp. There is no need for that laboured take home increasingly hard readers stuff for some children if you approach reading later. Some kids will learn to read on their own so let them, how powerful is that? to teach your self to read! I can do anything… Some will need help so why don’t we set it up that they can choose when that is and that they have the power and can plan/ask to have individual, or group (if that’s how they work best) lessons from an expert (that could be a kid folks). That reading is not seen as what you learn at school, the point of school, and that non reading is just not yet reading, or maybe even is like being unable to dance. We make out there is a set path as ordained by..(I don’t know).. complete with dates, we can’t allow for deviations/deviants. Helena totally knows that her friends know different stuff to her, that they are good at stuff she isn’t, that she could learn from them just as she also knows she taught herself to read at 7 and a bit. She has also picked up some where that reading is more highly respected by adults than tree climbing or using a saw but doesn’t agree with this. In Gwen Somerset’s (an educational pioneer in New Zealand) book Sunshine and Shadow she talks about how she did art, music, dancing and play with her class and how eventually the children would come and ask her to teach them to read. We patronize children, they know the written word has power. In our not so distant history that’s what the written word was used for: to disassemble power from the ruling elites, all that reading of pamphlets illegally published to communicate what was happening. Those were adults who became readers. Why aren’t we allowed to realise as adults we want to learn something normally taught in primary school. Shouldn’t adult education also be free and available to all and on at different times so as many people have access as possible. I look at some stuff taught in high school now and I just wish I was a kid.

I certainly think that people who are dyslexic should have equity, that their skills should be fostered in the same way my conventional, dominant paradigm school skills were but I don’t think or want people who’s brains work differently to mine to have to fit into the model that worked for me. The whole model is wrong not just the details. That’s what I thought I’d learn in the course how to make people excel as themselves not how to excel in our narrow definition of success.

There must be something in the air..  Ipu Kererū just published this, and check out this quote “we need to allow a child’s strengths to shine rather than their weaknesses.” Good.

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