‘Disengaged students’ or students who have ‘shut-down’
All the dyslexic students I have taught over the past 11 years have no problem reading in the Malay language. Those who study in Chinese schools can also read fluently in Romanised Chinese (Han Yu Pin yin).
I believe there are many children who cannot read but do not have many of the problems included in many definitions of dyslexia on the internet. This web-log is not for parents of kids who have ‘phonological awareness deficit’ or acuity problem. This web-log is for kids who cannot read in the English Language because they have shut-down or disengaged themselves from what the teacher teaches. They disengage because the English language does not make sense to them. Kids shut-down when teachers do not teach these kids that many of the letters of the alphabet in the English language represent more than one phoneme (sound). As such a majority of the kids who end up being unable to read are simply kids who have shut-down or disengaged from what is being taught because they have not been taught in a way suitable for them.
Dyslexia as defined by Stanovich:
“Standard exclusionary criteria include conditions that began or existed prior to school entry such as severe attentional problems, mental retardation, oral language impairment, emotional disturbance and/or behavioural difficulties, deficits in hearing or visual acuity, neurological disorders such as autism or childhood schizophrenia, or chronically poor health. Historically, the notion of “unexpected underachievement” has been the central defining feature of dyslexia. Children are identified as having dyslexia only when factors that would be expected to cause problems in all areas of learning, not just reading, are excluded (not ruling out the possibility of comorbidity). For example, children with severe attentional problems would be expected to have problems in all areas of learning, not just reading and writing. Such children should therefore not be diagnosed as having dyslexia. Similarly, children with deficits in auditory acuity due to otitis media (or “glue ear”), for example, would be expected to have trouble with learning in general, because their deficits in auditory discrimination would impede oral language development, which in turn would make understanding classroom instruction in all areas of learning difficult. These examples relate to a core assumption of dyslexia, which is the assumption of specificity, the notion that the child diagnosed with dyslexia has a deficit that is reasonably specific to the literacy learning task; that is, the deficits displayed by such children should not extend too far into other areas of cognitive functioning” (Stanovich, 1991).
Despite all the scientific progress in the world over the past 50 years or so the percentage of students who drop out of school as illiterates has not come down. We have to ask ourselves as to why this is so.
This Blog post is for parents with children who cannot read in the English language. I have successfully taught many kids who were sent to me by anxious parents who could not understand why their kids could not read in English despite being very clever in many other fields.