Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A rebel without any effort

I am profoundly grateful to two people in my life
(excuse me, but I have a tummy bug so am addressing my mortality just now),
I'm sure there are more people that I am grateful for but right now as I write a report I am reminded that I would not be writing reports had it not been for Mags and Mrs Whittleston.

Mags is a given because she's my mum but it was her faith in her kids, sorry children she hates the word kids, that meant that she never gave up on my brother or me (and Pippipotomus but her case it was for different reasons). Mags researched dyslexia (family helped with that too) and fought the school and found SPELD and got me a tutor named Mrs Whittleston.

My brother and I are learning disabled - boy does that bring to mind a multitude of dire disabilities - basically things like reading didn't gel for me until I was nine and then once it did I went from nothing to reading adult books. Maybe I was just board with the reading material I was given?

Every Monday afternoon we drove to Mrs Whittleston's leafy green, cool house up the back of Riverlea Road. There I learnt to spell using wooden animals (sounds weird I know, I still can't spell rhino... the whole word that is, good thing I never use it) and the reason I'm thinking of this today is because I was just writing 'business' and remembered how long it took me to learn how to spell that word.

Now I view my dyslexia/learning disability*as probably my greatest asset as it never goes away, you learn to adapt, actually you adapt before you learn, it's call coping. I never knew there was something 'wrong' with me, so as far as I'm concerned I'm perfectly normal. Plus I have this wonderful advantage of seeing the world in a whole different way to everyone else and it has made my life richer, more interesting and way funner than it ever would just by virtue of not fitting so automatically I was a rebel without any effort.

As I write this I am reminded of how before I could read well, I knew how to speak and boy did I do that. Mags tells this story, and I do remember giving the talk but that's all, of me being in Standard 4 (with scary Mr Wilson who sharpen our pencils with a knife) and the presentation was on Ancient Egypt (I wanted to be an archaeologist until I realised you had to look for stuff, I hate looking for stuff, really hate it) and apparently the end of school bell rang and I kept going and the kids/children remained listening until I finished as if the bell never rang. You see what not learning to read does for you? You strengthen other skills that most people are mortally afraid off. Nice compensation HF.

*there are varying degrees of dyslexia and disabilities so there is no typical problem or person - love that moving target parents and teachers have to deal with.

P.S. I am also profoundly grateful for spellcheck.

1 comment:

  1. There are many definitions of dyslexia. One of them is: Dyslexia is a learning disability. This is far from the truth. How can one say it is a learning disability when there are many things the dyslexic children learn at a much faster speed than non dyslexic kids. They can solve puzzles (the kind where you fit cut up pictures to form a picture) at great speed.

    Another definition is: Difficulty in learning language. This I believe is because most of the people who write on dyslexia are from countries where they speak only English. All the kids I had taught speak and learn at least two languages. They have to learn both Bahasa Malaysia (Malay language)and English. Most of them also had to learn Mandarin in school. I found that all of them had no problem reading Malay and Han Yu Pin Yin (Romanized Mandarin). This prompted me to ask myself as to why they could read fluently (yes fluently) in Malay and Han Yu Pin Yin and yet struggle with reading in English.
    Is it correct to say that they have a language disability? I don't think so. In fact I completely disagree. I recently chanced upon an article about an Australian dyslexic. I attach the web site here:
    I hope the above story adds credence to my findings.
    It is obvious to me that my dyslexic students are very logical in their thinking and they have a problem, not in learning phonetically correct languages like Malay and Mandarin in Han Yu Pin Yin, but in learning the English Language which is not logical to them.

    Dyslexic children when not taught in the way they should be taught shut off their mind. They shut off their mind to anything that is not logical to them.
    For instance they learn the words 'but' and 'cut' easily but I have seen blank faces when I teach them the word 'put'. Many of my students have asked me as to why I spell 'was' the way I do and not 'wos' the way it should be. Recently one of my students asked me why I say the word 'on' one way and say it differently when it is in the word 'station'.

    The dyslexic children are usually called 'stupid' in the classroom environment not only by their fellow students but sometimes by the teachers as well. Soon they begin to believe that they are stupid and go into a shell and hardly learn any more. When I tell them that they are not stupid but the English language is I can see a smile in their faces. Then I tell them to just pronounce the word as I pronounce it and they do it happily. The point is that this thing takes a little time to sink in (on an average about 2 months) but once they understand that the language is not logical they learn just as fast as any other kid. I find that one to one tuition is a must for these dyslexic children for about a year.

    I have written all the above and more in my weblog : Please visit my site and read from the beginning so you will have a better understanding of what I am saying. I will also be giving lessons tailored to the needs of the dyslexic children. I hope you will please inform as many parents and tutors of dyslexic children about my blog. It is completely free of charge and I spend a lot of time on this blog to help as many dyslexic parents out there as possible.

    As for me saying that English is a nonsense language please excuse me. I find that that statement gives back the lost self-esteem and encourages them to move forward. When I say that they are happy as they now think that they are smart and the English language is what is stupid. I do it just for the sake of teaching them. Feel free to substitute or take that part away.

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    Thank you and kind regards,
    Luqman Michel