Image via Wikipediaby Bruce D Price
In truth, the debate swirling around so-called “dyslexia” is one of the most interesting intellectual debates in America for the last 50+ years.
A student said to have “dyslexia” unquestionably has some sort of reading problem. The real question is: what is the nature of this problem?
The Education Establishment likes to act as though it’s an open-and-shut case that the child with a reading problem is in some way a damaged child. That is, the child was born defective, got hit on the head, took the wrong drugs, had a disease, or almost drowned. In short, it’s the child’s fault that the child has a problem. The child is not normal.
Now consider these scenarios. You teach a child to read with any number of techniques that don’t work very well. For example, every other letter is a different color. The child has to read with one eye. The child has to be hanging by one foot. Every other page is all lower case or all upper case. The child has to memorize English words as graphic designs...
Exactly. They are all silly ways to teach children to read, especially the last one. It’s called Whole Word, look-say, or sight-words. 70 years of statistics show that it does not work. The country has 50 million functional illiterates. Many of those victims experience bizarre difficulties as side-effects, for example, the words flip or they drift on the page. Such difficulties are usually referred to as “dyslexia.”
One can settle this debate strictly from the point of view that it’s humanly impossible for all but the most exceptional memories to retain even 3,000 sight-words. But you really need 10,000 at a minimum, and 50,000 to go to college. Most of you reading this article are thought to have vocabularies of at least 200,000 words and names. You didn’t get to that level memorizing sight-words (even if you were supposedly taught to read with sight-words, you quickly saw through to the phonetic heart of the language).
Now, all of the above is admittedly my own conclusions. But I would stress that I’m in agreement with all the phonics gurus, Samuel Blumenfeld, Marva Collins, Mona McNee, Don Potter, Siegfried Engelmann, and many more. All of them take the position that virtually all children will normally learn to read in the first or second grade. Problem readers, if they occur, are well under 1%.
Meanwhile the public schools are saying that up to 20% or even 25% of children might be afflicted by “dyslexia.”
My read on this is that the schools want an alibi. They don’t want to admit they are using bad methods. They want to blame everything on the students. It can’t be emphasized too much. This approach is a classic blame-the-victim strategy.
Compare: cut off a man’s feet and then criticize him for being a slow runner.
This is a very serious issue with huge ramifications. If schools officials can hide behind “dyslexia,” these officials can go right on using Whole Word, all the while demanding more money.
Many young teachers are trained to teach “sight-words” and then to blame any problems they encounter on “dyslexia”!
For a more complete analysis of this subject, please see “Dyslexia: The Evil Myth” at this link: http://www.fastpitchnetworking.com/pressrelease.cfm?PRID=64893
For the very short verison, see YouTube video “The Strange Truth About Dyslexia.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeFLLnRWROQ
About the Author
Bruce Price founded improve-Education.org in 2005.