Sunday, 18 November 2012

Dyslexia and functional literacy. Being on the edge

Dyslexia and functional literacy

My blog during ‘Children in Need’ highlighted the existence of over a million students in UK schools every day, who will not be functionally literate as adults. Scaling this for the USA we are talking about 5-6 million children in USA in schools this week.

This 20 % of the population will contain many who could be identified as Dyslexic.  This will be despite opportunity.  There has to be reasons why people find reading difficult and are unable to develop their capability.
Many will be people who should have been wearing glasses when they were young. Or they should have been wearing appropriate glasses. To be honest, I do not know about the USA but here in the UK there is no financial incentive for an optician to really look that closely at a child’s visual needs. Most teachers do not know how to look for the clues, indicators.
Many will be from families where the parent (s) found it hard work as well, so there will be few books and reading material around little academic expectation.  In many homes there is consensus that ‘books and reading does your head in’. It is not fun, not enjoyable; whatever their reading teachers tell them!
Many may have found that when they get glasses, ‘their visual stress’ problems are not solved.  They need more, possibly prisms, different font size, different ambient lighting, and different light mix bouncing off the page or coming out of the screen.
If these other issues or barriers are not removed then their reading will not develop properly, it will also affect what some people refer to as intelligence. In itself a consequence of opportunity or experience. I am unsure of what intelligence is, and what capability is. How do you differentiate between the two? Anyway which ‘intelligence’ do they mean?
A slow runner may be ridiculed or marginalised because they are slow. Being a slow runner though does not put limitations on the rest of your life. It does not cast a ‘slur’ on your brain, on your very being like being a slow reader.
Fast readers rarely have functional literacy problems. Reading speed (Oral Reading fluency in words per minute reading aloud) is an amazingly good indicator of potential academic performance.  If it takes longer to read something, a book, an exam paper, you are not likely to remember how the ideas fit together; usually it goes with misreading, guessing at words and not being able to read for long, or being a slow writer. . 
What the Dyslexic ‘condition’ tells us is that people who are slow readers can demonstrate and develop their capability but they need to learn from others the strategies to get around the reading issues.
Dyslexic people know that slow reading or functional literacy problems do not have anything to do with intelligence. The two are not the same thing.
In a way those diagnosed as Dyslexic are the lucky ones. Most people who are slow readers or have functional literacy problems will be bullied by society into just accepting their place on the ‘edge’. They will be talked at, talked about, accused of being lazy, easily distracted clumsy treated as lesser beings.  The joke is that it is possible to enable people to read more effectively/
As a final point one attempt at this has been /is ‘explicit systematic phonics’. Ok one question.
·         What were the examinations results like for those in the Clackmannanshire experiment when they reached 16?  

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