Most schools and reading programs designed for remediation of dyslexia are based on the idea that dyslexia equals brokenness. Their aim is to transform the child into a person who can read without problems. But I’m here to tell you that’s just wrongheaded. I’ve learned that if you make your primary goal teaching your child to read or spell just like every other child, you’re going to decrease your child’s chances of achieving success. It’s like telling a person in a wheelchair that she needs to put in more time to learn how to walk.The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child’s Confidence and Love of Learning
If you struggle with reading and writing, it snowballs and affects every single part of your life. This is a systemic issue.
On top of all of that, adult literacy learners also have to deal with the stigma attached to their literacy level. “Illiterate” is an insult. “Illiterate” is another way to call someone “stupid”.The Adults Who Can’t Read – YouTube
In both cases, methodology become less important than process. Our students read on paper, or through audio books, or through text‐to‐speech, or by watching video, or by seeing theater – or by observing their world. They write with pens, keyboards large and small, touchscreens, or by dictating to their phones or computers, or by recording audio, or by making videos, or by writing plays or creating art, or playing music. We do not limit the work by attacking those with disabilities or even inabilities – or even other preferences, because that robs children of both important influences and of their individual voices. Multiplicities are an intention: We build the best collaboration, the deepest learning, when we expand the opportunities for complex vision.Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools.
Thus we begin by moving the teaching of writing from the training of a specific skill set toward an interpersonal art form that flows from students and builds communities. Then, through the reimagining of teaching places into “learning spaces,” we craft “studios” where all the technologies of school – time, space, tools, pedagogies – liberate and inspire rather than deliver and test. Then, using those recrafted technologies, we allow communication learning to flow.Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools.
Types of Reading
There are three types of reading: eye reading, ear reading, and finger reading. A child with dyslexia will never eye-read as well as his peers, and that, I hope to reassure you, is fine. Yet all children need to be exposed to vocabulary and ideas to be successful in school. If your child was blind, providing text as audiobooks or Braille would allow her to read with her ears or with her fingers. No one would ever claim that a blind person was lazy or stupid for not reading text with her eyes. When I listen to audio, that’s ear reading. When I speed it up to four hundred words a minute, four times the pace of standard speech—a skill you can learn about in this book—I am leveling the playing field for me. It’s not what the mainstream conceives of as reading. But it’s ear reading. It’s learning. It’s literacy. I am introducing these terms to address an underlying bias in our schools: that eye reading is the only form of reading. You can help move the needle on this limited assumption by using the terms eye reading, ear reading, and finger reading yourself and explaining them to your child. We need to celebrate children’s love of ideas and quest for knowledge and give them permission to not like standard books at the same time! When we give kids opportunities to gather information and explore ideas in other ways, they will thrive. Eye reading is what children are taught in school, but it is no better than ear or finger reading in terms of information absorption or comprehension.The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child’s Confidence and Love of Learning
Focusing on eye reading overlooks the real goals of education, which are learning, independent thinking, and mastering the ability to make new connections in the world of ideas.The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child’s Confidence and Love of Learning
Reading Differences and Shame
Content note: shaming, r-word, self-harm, suicide, ableism
We should be measured by what we can do, not by what we can’t.
Shame cuts off connection and thrives on hiding.
Dyslexia is a particularly powerful form of shame, and it involves a lot of vulnerability.
Vulnerability can be defined as true courage.
Shame is a very lonely moment.
Dyslexia is a perfect storm of shame.
- Arrives at the time you are first being evaluated
- Made harsher by lack of explanation. Fail without context.
- Reinforced by peers and institutions
“Retard” is a bullet sent at a child when it gets said.
Guilt is feeling bad about something you did, something you can fix. Shame is feeling bad about who you are.
I knew I was going to be on a bad list. There was going to be a good list, and I was going to be on the bad list, maybe alone.
I was proud because I changed the narrative.
Negative scripts: blame, contempt, comparison
The shame of special education.
Dyslexia is like a bad cellphone connection to the page.
Leadership is changing what people think is possible, or changing what they think is appropriate.
Dyslexia is not a disease, it is an identity. An identity is not something one cures; it is the basis of community and is an element of self you aim to understand and embrace. My hope is that you and your child will learn to own dyslexia, to understand it, and ideally, to celebrate it.
This book— and your mission as a parent— is about moving the model for your child from dyslexia as disease to dyslexia as identity, an identity we can all be proud of.
Most schools and reading programs designed for remediation of dyslexia are based on the idea that dyslexia equals brokenness. Their aim is to transform the child into a person who can read without problems. But I’m here to tell you that’s just wrongheaded. I’ve learned that if you make your primary goal teaching your child to read or spell just like every other child, you’re going to decrease your child’s chances of achieving success. It’s like telling a person in a wheelchair that she needs to put in more time to learn how to walk.
The key to my happiness occurred when I stopped trying to change my brain, and started changing the context around me.
One dyslexic friend of mine described his shame as “slow-drip trauma.” He felt unworthy and “not normal” every day. As an adult, he was treated for post-traumatic stress syndrome that was caused by his experiences in school.
Ninety percent of my injuries happened when I was in school and before I was talking about my dyslexia publicly. Hiding who you are can translate into self-harm. When I talk with my peers in the dyslexia movement, a majority of them had a specific plan for suicide when they were teenagers. I regularly meet dyslexic kids who cut themselves or worse when they were young. I am fine today, but the hiding left scars, figurative and literal, for many of us.
My friend Steve Walker, a very successful dyslexic entrepreneur, tells me all the time that you could not pay him enough money to go back to any type of school setting. He even says that he would sooner kill himself than go back to school. Yet in the same breath he will also say that you could not give him enough money to take away his dyslexia, because it is a part of who he is. Many times when I was in school or taking a standardized test, I rejected an accommodation because I was embarrassed and ashamed: I did not want to stand out, or I was frustrated that it would take too much effort to get permission to have my exam read aloud to me.
The majority of teachers and administrators are well-intentioned and look for ways to help your child. However, they often miss the most important point, which is that the goal is not to fix your child— your child is not broken. The goal is, instead, to play to your child’s strengths, support his weaknesses, and give him access to information.
Often people discuss dyslexia in terms of it having been diagnosed, but that word reinforces the notion that dyslexia is a disease, a scourge, an imperfection, and that someday we can find a cure. As I said in the introduction, there will be no cure because there is no disease! Dyslexia is a characteristic, like being male or female, or from a certain state, or a graduate of a certain university. There’s nothing less than perfect inherent in any of those descriptions, is there? You can start changing this practice in your own house today, replacing the phrase “diagnosed with dyslexia” with “identified with dyslexia.”
Reading and Technology
For me, reading a book in the traditional way is like listening to a bad cell phone connection, but speech technology is like a landline: the transmission of information is clear and crisp.The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child’s Confidence and Love of Learning
No student will have mechanical limitations in access to either information or communication — whether through disability, inability at this moment, or even just discomfort. Learning is our goal, and we make it accessible.
We hand our students real laptops with real capabilities, and we fill them with software, apps, and bookmarks.
We want our children to discover how to choose effectively for their own needs. To do that, they need choices, and so we believe in Toolbelt Theory.The Basics of Open Technology
Disabled ways of languaging are primarily about modality.
Disabled ways of languaging are primarily about modality.Crip Linguistics Intro
People use languages in different ways. Some people use language to help find other people like them. Many people use language in specific ways because of how their body and mind work. Sometimes a person’s environment and material conditions forces them to use language in a certain way. However, when someone languages outside of what people think is normal, others can think that they are bad with language or are not as smart or are broken. We are trying to point out that no one is actually ‘bad with language.’ Our goal with this paper is to help people understand that no language is bad. It is okay to want to change your own language use if it will make you feel better. But no one should make you feel bad about your language. We need a bigger and more flexible understanding of what language is and what it communicates about a bodymind’s capacity.PsyArXiv Preprints | Unsettling Languages, Unruly Bodyminds: Imaging a Crip Linguistics
On the Problems of “Science of Reading”
“Science of Reading” particularly and #researchEd and bro rationalism more generally, remind us of this from Alfie Kohn.
The underpinnings of that ideology include: a focus only on observable behaviors that can be quantified, a reduction of wholes to parts, the assumption that everything people do can be explained as a quest for reinforcement, and the creation of methods for selectively reinforcing whichever behaviors are preferred by the person with the power. Behaviorists ignore, or actively dismiss, subjective experience – the perceptions, needs, values, and complex motives of the human beings who engage in behaviors.Autism and Behaviorism – Alfie Kohn
The “Science of Reading” is not so scientific and not compatible with neurodiversity. Like behaviorism, it measures the surface, badly. It also steals the credibility of science to rationalize prior bigotries.
Behind SoR is a “who’s who” of behaviorism and traditional, “back to basics”, ed.
On the problems with “Science of Reading”:
As a result, journalism frequently bestows unquestioned status to systematic phonics instruction while emphasizing other aspects of literacy learning far less. This instructional approach has come to be known in the popular press by the moniker “the science of reading,” even though actual research-based science of reading is far more nuanced and expansive. Furthermore, journalists often dismiss another approach to teaching called balanced literacy, an orientation supported by 59% of reading researchers that advocates for a robust range of literacy learning opportunities that include phonics, comprehension, writing, and other forms of literacy development in contexts that motivate young literacy learners.The Science of Reading and the Media: How Do Current Reporting Patterns Cause Damage? – Literacy Research Association
We argue that reductive and singular models of reading fail to honor the cultures, experiences, and diversity of children. This confluence of research findings reveals an unequivocal need for caution as states, universities, schools, and teachers adopt assumedly universal and narrow approaches to teaching reading.Stories Grounded in Decades of Research: What We Truly Know about the Teaching of Reading – Compton‐Lilly – The Reading Teacher – Wiley Online Library
Stories Grounded in Decades of Research: What We Truly Know about the Teaching of Reading – Compton‐Lilly – The Reading Teacher – Wiley Online Library
- If the science of reading advocates only phonics instruction for all children, how can it address the various reading challenges faced by children?
- If NAEP scores have been largely unchanged for the past 30 years, why are science of reading advocates warning of a reading crisis?
- If decades of empirical research conducted by the world’s most accomplished reading scholars have increasingly documented the complexity of reading, why would schools, districts, and states adopt approaches that narrowly focus on phonics?
- If reading processes are distributed across neural networks in the brain, how can phonics be the singular and universal instructional approach for teaching children to read?
- If observations of young readers reveal that different kids attend differently to various aspects of text (e.g., letters/sounds, meaning, story elements, and language patterns), how could a primary emphasis on phonics be right for all readers?
Stories Grounded in Decades of Research: What We Truly Know about the Teaching of Reading – Compton‐Lilly – The Reading Teacher – Wiley Online Library
The Science of Learning flattens the complexity of both learning and the brain, misplacing outsized importance on a limited view of “cognitive science” in its relationship to schooling. It’s also important for educators to understand where the evidence in “evidence-based education”, as “the science of learning” was known in a previous life, comes from and who it leaves out when we demand its faithful implementation in schools.
According to science, it’s actually impossible to understand what happens in a learner’s brain in any given moment.There is No Such Thing As “The Science of Learning” | Human Restoration Project | Nick Covington Michael Weingarth
The Science of Learning is misleading when it refers exclusively to cognitive science, memory management, and the brain, because it ignores all the unknowable and ineffable components of what happens inside a student’s brain. It positions The Science to be thoroughly researched, but it also doesn’t acknowledge a huge body of work that proves cognitive science is significantly more complex than they have portrayed it.
Research increasingly recognizes that, as medical researchers Peter Stilwel and Katharine Harmon write, “Cognition is not simply a brain event.”(*) Drawing from their intuitive 5E model, we can better understand learning as a process of sense-making about ourselves in relation to the world that is:
Embodied – sense-making shaped by being in a bodyThere is No Such Thing As “The Science of Learning” | Human Restoration Project | Nick Covington Michael Weingarth
Embedded – bodies exist within a context in the world
Enactive – active agents in interactions with the world
Emotive – sense-making always happens in an emotional context
Extended – sense-making relies on non-biological tools and technologies
But outside these important areas of agreement, we are concerned that the “science of reading” advocacy has been grounded in some very troubling patterns:10
Policy Statement on the “Science of Reading”, National Education Policy Center and Education Deans for Justice and Equity
- Failing to place the current concern for reading in a historical context.11
- Overemphasizing recent test scores and outlier data instead of longitudinal data withgreater context (for example, NAEP).12
- Misrepresenting the “science of reading” as settled science that purportedly prescribes systematic intensive phonics for all students.13
- Overstating and misrepresenting the findings of the National Reading Panel report of 2000, without acknowledging credible challenges to those findings.14
- Focusing blame on K-12 teachers and teacher education without credible evidence or acknowledgement of challenging teaching and learning conditions and the impact of test-based accountability policies on practice and outcomes.15
- Celebrating outlier examples of policy success (in particular, the Mississippi 2019 NAEP data16) without context or high-quality research evidence for those claims.17It’s time for the media and political distortions to end, and for the literacy community and policymakers to fully support the literacy needs of all children. Much of the legislation be- ginning to emerge is harmful, especially to students living inequitable lives and attending underfunded, inequitable schools.
As long as scholars, policymakers, and practitioners treat the science of reading as primarily about assessed reading proficiency, these other aspects of reading instruction are relegated to the periphery, if not ignored entirely.
We propose that a better central question for research, policy, and practice is, How can reading instruction best help students develop and flourish as literate beings in the ways that matter most? To be sure, the question, What works? remains part of this reimagined science of reading, but a bolder and broader vision is needed.”What Matters Most? Toward a Robust and Socially Just Science of Reading – Aukerman – 2021 – Reading Research Quarterly – Wiley Online Library
What Matters Most? Toward a Robust and Socially Just Science of Reading – Aukerman – 2021 – Reading Research Quarterly – Wiley Online Library