Sunday, 19 January 2014

Dyslexia and Loving Words

Earlier this week I talked with mother from school as we talked over the dentist's chair I sat in. She was concerned about the last school report and her children's dyslexia. Who could she talk to?

It made me think about children diagnosed with or who I knew had dyslexia over the years. I thought about what I did do for them, what I didn't do for them, and that feeling of not having done quite enough.

I thought especially about one young chap who I know is bright; he could solve maths problems easily and was holding things in his head instead of using paper. He loved to discuss and debate and of course, at that stage in my career I told him to quiet down and write his answers. Whoa!

Another young lass more recently, was able to tell great stories. I read her story out at a moderation meeting. After the accolades, I showed my colleagues her written text and told them her name. They were astounded. Then of course, came the debate about how to grade the piece. Therein is the problem: we use tools that give us an overall grade. This wordsmith could capture an audience, by creating amazing word pictures and plot lines.

I knew that these children were getting a raw deal.  I knew that there were people in public and academic life who had found success in spite of dyslexia and a less than satisfactory experience of school.  Even in my own experience, I'd had a student who left my Year 13 English class to complete and English degree for which she planned to use a tape-deck (another decade of course).

I have to admit I still felt helpless as the mother spoke. So when the film,"Dyslexia and Loving Words" by Vicky Morris, was promoted on Twitter by Sir Ken Robinson, I got sidetracked from my reading and started watching. That was me for the next hour or more! (Stopping and starting to reflect, make lunch...)

I'd started out to read about writing in Gail Loane's book, but this was definitely a worthy substitute for the chapter I aimed to read.

I've added my reflections from Storify after the Youtube video:

I didn't formally make resolutions for the year but I have resolved to do things I want and need to do for my soul. One of these is find out more about dyslexia and ensure that our teachers are better informed. I'll be promoting this documentary for a start.