Saturday, April 4, 2015

My article in LinkedIn today


                                            Does not matter if it is a black cat or white cat

Here is an article I posted on LinkedIn today in response to the trained teachers who insist that students should be taught on some scientific system.

I have mentioned that I am not a trained teacher but I have successfully taught dyslexic kids for the past 11 years. My experience as a parent having brought up 5 children who have all been top students in their school and 2 of them being top in the state of Sabah, and my common sense approach to teaching together with a keen sense of observation are the factors that have given me the confidence to teach and to talk about dyslexic kids.

Research reports from the US that state that schools where intervention had taken place and where the rate of failure had been reduced from 30 odd % to around 3 % should indicate that something is wrong with the teaching methods in schools in the US. Those who defend that ‘scientific methods of teaching’ is the only way to teach and that there is no place for individual opinions should think again about what they have uttered. The fact that intervention has reduced the % of kids who fail is proof enough that there is a right way of teaching. The fact that I have taught children who could hardly read to become kids who could read well just after about 3 months of tuition also proves this point. Unfortunately, some teachers do not seem to know this or refuse to accept others’ experience in having taught reluctant and struggling students.  

Teachers seem to focus their attention on children who can read regardless of how these 80% or so children are taught. Most of the teachers in the US today have learned using the ‘whole language’ method. They are the teachers who when they were kids would have learned to read regardless of how they have been taught. I teach all my students using ‘phonics’ and memorisation of the Dolch sight words. I teach my dyslexic students to read from day one. As such they look forward to coming to my tuition class.  

However, many schools teach phonics in many countries in the world and yet the % of illiterate students remains the same as it has been since the 70’s. What we need to ask is why this is so instead of saying that we need a ‘scientific system’ of teaching. How long have we been using this scientific system and what is the result, is what we need to ask ourselves. I repeat: the 80-odd % of kids will learn to read no matter how you teach but not the remaining 20% and these are the students we should focus on.

When I mention that a majority of reluctant and struggling students do not have a phonemic awareness problem because they can read in Italian, Malay and many other orthographically consistent languages, the so-called experts brush it aside by saying that this is because these languages are shallow. Now, what has a shallow or deep language got to do with phonemic awareness? Can any of the teachers here please educate me on this matter? Just because a researcher some 35 years ago had said that dyslexics have a phonemic/ phonological awareness deficit every other researcher echoes him without thinking what it means.  

I have mentioned that I have seen kids’ shutting down when something confusing/illogical is taught to them. The book Tipping point by Malcolm Gladwell says that children watching TV programmes do the same thing. Don’t we want to ask why? Do we want to still talk about whether to teach kids f/ur or f/u/r/? Please refer to my posts in my blog dated 17.3.2010 and 18.3.2010. Like Deng Xiao Ping had once said “It does not matter whether the cat is black or white as long as it can catch mice”. Likewise, let’s keep an open mind and try and learn from one another instead of brushing off others who may have much more experience in having taught reluctant and struggling students. They too spend a lot of money and time blogging to help, and have successfully helped, many parents with such students. Take a little time to read the comments of parents and teachers from many parts of the world in my blog.

If there is nothing wrong with the way teachers are teaching there will not be as many reluctant and struggling students. As I have said, the reluctant and struggling students are those who have ‘shut down’ because teachers do not teach letter-sound correspondences the way they need to be taught. 

                              Petrol is a good fuel but you cannot put in 
                              petrol and expect a diesel engine to work.

If the way teachers teach is right there will not be as many reluctant and struggling students as there are now.


Bob Rose, MD (retired) said...


You're right about American schools being in deep trouble. Marilyn Jager Adams, in her new book "ABC Foundations For Young Children", presents newly published proof that most American children finishing two years of school still can't handwrite and name all of the alphabet letters...this is preventable and important; parents should teach their own kids to handwrite the alphabet before school, as I'm sure you did with your brood.

Saviour-V said...

Hello, Luqman. Ahmad Rizudin here. Call me Riz, it's easier.

Read your comments on and followed your link back to your blog.

I'm not dyslexic myself, but I'm not entirely sure that I don't have ADHD. There are signs, notably the hyper-focus to lack-of-focus situations that crop up randomly, but I guess that anyone normal might have those.

Still, I can identify a bit with the "shut-down" scenario; I used to hate learning about Chemistry back in high school. Could be the fact that it was taught in Malay, and that the teacher wasn't good at cultivating love for the subject.

Thankfully, when I got into one college (of two, mind you), one of the lecturers was kind enough to lend me a colourful book about Chemistry, and what you could do with it.

In a way, she cultivated my love of Chemistry, and even though that's not my major discipline, it remains something that excites me every now and so often, especially with regards to the culinary and explosive branches of Chemistry.

Let's face it: mankind has to eat, and mankind also usually has a love for fireworks and things that go "BOOM!"

Anyway, feel free to send an email my way; I'd like to get to know more about you, and perhaps learn a bit more from you.

Take care! Riz out.

Saviour-V said...

Riz again. Just editing some of my settings, so that future replies to my comments will go to my inbox. Forgot to do this just now. Sorry. ^_^;;

Luqman Michel said...

Hi Bob,thank you for your comment. If most kids finishing grade 2 can't still name all the alphabets, something is really wrong with the teaching system. Of course it is preventable. Here in Malaysia, hand writing the alphabets is compulsory.

I sometimes think that it is possible that some interested parties, who are mighty powerful, are intentionally ensuring that kids leaving school are not able to read fluently

Luqman Michel said...

Hi Riz, welcome to my blog. I am not dyslexic and neither are any of my family members. I started this blog to share what I have learnt from my students for the benefit of parents with 'shut-down' kids.

Yes, we all 'shut-down' for various reasons. A member of one faith will shut down when someone speaks to him about another faith. He sits down and gives the impression he is listening when actually he is not. The same thing applies to politics. If I were to talk about, say, Pakatan to a BN member, he may just be courteous and pretend to be listening when in actual fact he has shut-down and his mind is elsewhere.

In the case of kids learning to read they simply shut-down when things that are confusing are taught to them. Usually, after the shutting down most if not all the teacher is teaching does not enter his head.This happens in a classroom setting where the kid is shy to question the teacher but not so when he is taught on a one on one basis and especially so when the teacher is easily approachable.

Riz, feel free to write to me and we may learn a little from each other. Do, pass this blog to your friends who may know some parents with reluctant and struggling students.

My e-mail address is :

Bob Rose, MD (retired) said...

Luqman: Being able to write the alphabet is compulsory in USA schools, too; but teachers don't do it because they don't understand how important it is, and they don't understand that it takes a lot of practice for kids to become automatic with it.

Luqman Michel said...

Bob, With the advent of the computer and all the hand held writing devices teachers think that as long as one can type the letters it serves the purpose.

Bob Rose, MD (retired) said...


What I say to that is this: The Internet is now full of articles by scientists proving that handwriting is superior to keyboarding in teaching kids to name letters and to read. The first reference to this I can think of is by Longchamp, in the May, 2005 issue of Acta Psychologica. There are many others, which I could share if you like.

Bob Rose, MD (retired) said...


You seem to be very much in favor of "phonics". The Harvard professor who wrote the introduction to the 1912 English translation of The Montessori Method also wrote "That (handwriting fluency) might work for Italians, but it would never work for Anglophone student".

But you don't seem to understand the importance of "scientific studies".

In about 1630 Sir Francis Bacon ushered in the modern era by describing the scientific method a few decades before Newton. He wrote "Knowledge that doesn't give us increased control of our environment is not knowledge.

In other words, opinion without verifiable evedence is just that; armchair philosophy, like a defendent saying, "I don't need to tell you were I was at the time of the murder, just trust me, I didn't do it."

But jurors who think "There are six eye witnesses and video recordings that show you commiting the crime; don't just say, "trust me".

The way knowledge should progress is like this: Someone has an idea, finds that it's true through experiment (as I've done with handwriting fluency and literacy).

The investigator tells just how he experimented, and what the results were. Then if someone says, "I know plenty of kids who write well but still can't read", it up to him to give us scientific EVIDENCE!

Luqman Michel said...

Dear Bob, As I have mentioned to you, hand writing should be made compulsory for school going kids. Hand writing does embed alphabets written by kids into their brain. However,please do not try and equate learning to write well with being able to read well.I know of many of my school mates who wrote very well but were poor readers.

Luqman Michel said...

Bob, you said: Then if someone says, "I know plenty of kids who write well but still can't read", it up to him to give us scientific EVIDENCE!

What scientific evidence do people like you need? If someone tells you the above ask that someone to show you those kids. PERIOD! You don't need to do a scientific study.

Almost all Malaysians speak at least 2 languages.... Do you need scientific evidence of this? NO! All you need to do is to visit Malaysia and see it for yourself.

Luqman Michel said...

Bob, please read what I have written before you say things that are incorrect. I have said that I teach kids both phonics and sight words. I also teach them to look at context as many words in the English language need context to decipher.

Bob, stop talking about scientific studies. I have successfully taught dyslexic kids over the past 11 years and know why they are 'dyslexic' in English and yet can read fluently in Malay. There are scientific studies on 'dyslexics' being able to read fluently in other languages.Ask yourself why this is so.

You said: "Someone has an idea, finds that it's true through experiment (as I've done with handwriting fluency and literacy)".

I am telling you that I know of former classmates who could write very well and yet were not good readers. You don't need scientific studies. All you need to do is to visit schools and ask teachers.