Sunday, March 12, 2017

Disengaged student – A case study

I have written many articles on the Americans and British as well as Australians and New Zealanders grouping any and all children who have difficulty reading as ‘dyslexics’. The Americans and British say that most of the dyslexics have a ‘phonological awareness deficit’ which I believe is erroneous. I have written many posts on this in my blog as well.

I had stopped teaching for about a year and the one student that we have is taught by my wife. On 5.2.2017 someone (let’s call him Jim) telephoned me and asked me to evaluate his daughter to find out as to why she cannot read. I agreed stating that I only deal with disengaged/ shut down students and will be able to find out in a one hour session.

On 9.2.2017 Jim and his wife (let us call her Jane) brought their daughter Jill (not her real name) to my house. Jim explained that Jill is smart and when she talks will talk incessantly just like her mother. On this day Jill hardly opened her mouth. Jim said that Jill will not sit with him to read any material he reads to her. Within a minute or so she would walk away from reading. Jill was not interested in reading at all said Jim.

Jane told me that Jill was made the monitor of the class when she went into primary one after 2 years in a kindergarten. However, her badge was removed when the teacher found out that she could not read.
I asked Jill if she would like to learn to read and be as good as her classmates. She nodded her head giving me the first indication that she could be a disengaged student. Disengaged students do not want to be left out and would do whatever they can to be as good as their classmates if not better.

I then asked Jill to read a list of alphabets I had written on a piece of paper. The first line was written in large fonts and I had five lines of alphabets gradually becoming smaller and smaller until the last line was of the size of those in children’s books. She read all of the alphabets correctly.

I did that exercise just as a crude way of finding out is she had eyesight problem. This confirmed that she had no such problem.

I had expected her to read the names of the alphabets but (fortunately) she read she sound of the alphabets instead. This was just a one minute exercise. It, however, confirmed that her problem is that of a disengaged student.

She, like many kids in kindergarten and tuition centres had been taught the alphabet sounds (phonics) in the wrong way. She sounded out the following consonants in the following way:
M as Mur/Mer
S as Sur/Sir
T as Ter/Tur etc

As explained, elsewhere in my blog, this is one of the reasons a majority of the ‘so called dyslexic children’ shut down or disengage from studying. If not corrected they will lose their self esteem and end up being disruptive in class and then will be called stupid/ lazy by other students and sometimes by the teachers.
I told Jim and Jane that I will try and get her to read within 4 months of one hour lesson 3 times per week.
I will commence teaching on 14.3.2017 and write a summary of what happens so that parents of similar kids may be able to benefit.

There are about 10 to 20 percent of kids in the world who are unable to read and a majority of such students are actually smart kids who have shut down because of wrong methods of teaching.
Please inform parents of kids who may have such reading problems.

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