Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Dyslexia (Part 2)

I wish I had the original essay I wrote about this, but the damned computer crashed and I lost not only the essay but all the replies to it.

So, to continue...

Why do I care? Because if just one child can be saved from the difficulties dyslexics face, I'll be a happy woman. Because, believe it or not, I generally care about mankind. And because I rabidly detest what has happened to education over the past 100 years or so.

So, if dyslexia is a man-made disease, brought on by poor teaching methods, what can be done to stop it?

One word: PHONICS

I've had a slew of arguments about this topic. Lots of hand waving about how the English language isn't completely phonetic, and some word just HAVE to be memorized. I'll allow that. (I'd be an idiot not to.) But throwing out teaching phonics because not every word is phonetic is like throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Most words adhere to some kind of rules. Sure learning the rules isn't always easy, but it's certainly better than trying to guess at the thousands of words you haven't memorized.

It's no wonder some kids' brains get screwy.

Now, there's also research that says dyslexia is biological. Something about brain chemistry in dyslexics being different than in non-dyslexics. To be juvenile, let me say: well, duh. Everything we learn and everything we experience is coded into our brains using... you guessed it... chemicals. So, if things get written in your brain wrong, the chemistry in your brain is going to be different than someone who's had the things written in there correctly. I'd venture the brain chemistry of an adult who's never been taught to read is vastly different from one who has. (I'd say venture, because once again, I am not a scientist. If someone has verifiable proof to the contrary, please let me know.)

And once you reach adulthood, your brain is pretty much set in stone, unless you find a way to damage it somehow. (More about that topic later.) So, once you've got dyslexia, it's yours for life. Kinda makes you want to slap John Dewey upside the head with a two-by-four, don't it?

(Stay tuned for a rant on progressive education.)

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