The underlying meaning of the term ‘dyis almost always “ Traditionally, such poor readers were referred to simply as “bad readers.” It is time for educators to accurately define this overused term so that parents better understand the problems that their children are facing, and make better decisions even if those mean removing children from schools that fail to teach reading to enroll them in schools where full is considered the achievable goal. defines the core deficit of such readers as . It is time that all schools employ teachers who know how to teach all children the skills for then teach all children to read by teaching them to accurately use the complete system of for both receptive and expressive literacy is, and always has been, for later reading. It is time to let both the students and their parents in on that secret.
When it became obvious, even to those outside the realm of schooling, that teachers, were failing to teach children to read using the See & Say Method with its books,, became necessary. By bringing into use the term educators were provided with the means to transfer their own failures onto the true reason that children were no longer learning to read.
The fact is that in order to read a like English, readers must be taught the in which that language is written. Rather than admit their errors and return to the traditional method for teaching reading, educational powers-that-be decided that the destructive blunder must continue unabated and unstated. Mountains of blame, and a lucrative dyslexia industry, have grown to distract people from the underlying reasons for the massive failure of American schools.
Reading failures began when educators changed their teaching methods . Regna Lee Wood explained in her article, “” ( , 09-14-1992, pgs 49-52):
After bestowing a label of on a child, the educational focus should turn to rapid remediation of accurate sound awareness, sound interpretation, and sound-to-letter correspondence. That rarely occurs. The black hole of special education too often swallows the child. Little—or — is done to remediate auditory and sound-to-letter deficits towards returning the child to regular classes prepared to achieve full literacy in English. Too many of these children languish in special ed classes until quitting school or as an illiterate with compromised opporunities in life. Companies “specializing in dyslexia” create expensive programs, often with endless pen & pencil worksheets claiming to help students “overcome their deficits.” Too many poor children in poor schools never receive even that much.
I taught special education classes for over 40 years. The first two decades were spent teaching deaf children; the second two decades were spent teaching students burdened with the After careful observation and testing, I found that most of my students to be bad readers who were “” rather than Learning Disabled. They had not been taught to read in the right way, at the right time, and with the right methods. Some refer to the dyslexia subcategory as “ ”. I concur. label, often with assigned like a specialty.
Using Greek combining forms for word creation, one sees that dyslexia means “bad with words”. However, in my long career in Special Education, where one should surely see dyslexic children, I recall just two (2) students with normal IQs who I believe had innate physical deficits. I concluded that the term to define such deficits should be “bad with symbols”. One student was so bad at learning and manipulating that in high school, he still had difficulty doing first grade math. However, his verbal, reading, and writing skills were above grade level. The other student, also a high schooler, had great difficulty interpreting and converting into the which represented them. He had learned to read fairly well because he had strong anticipatory and inference skills, but he could not convert any but the most basic words into a spelled form. The condition of being “bad with symbols” occurs quite rarely.
The failure of the sight word/whole language/balanced literacy method happens like this: A sight word memorized becomes a snapshot of the word, retained in the portion of our brain where pictures are stored. Therefore, each new sight word learned nestles cozily there with memories of other Whole things: grandmother’s face, first home, first bicycle, first pet, favorite friend,…
But the act of reading is a Sequential, rather than a Whole Word recognition skill. Sequential processes are handled in a different portion of the brain from where all of those drilled-to-memorization sight words are stored. For fluent reading to occur, an individual must become adept at moving the eyes sequentially, Left to Right, recognizing each phoneme and considering its position in a sequence that makes up a word, then considering the word meaning to the sequence that makes up the sentence.
Methodical instruction in Phonics hones such skills. These skills allow the brain to assign (taking from the Code) tasks to an Auto Pilot mode whereby the flow of thought can almost to the meaning of the piece being read, without being bogged down by decoding chores. The eyes fly across the print, pausing to decode new words before leaping to the next word in the sequence.
We think in a flow. I compare this to fluent, sequential Cursive penmanship. We think and speak the word “have decided cursive is no longer needed.”. We neither think nor say, ”. The fractured aspect of printing has no place in reinforcing the fluent flow of speech, thought, writing, or reading. The learning and use of Cursive mimics and reinforces the flow of thought and reading. In great error, the educational “experts”
In my classroom, we referred to the Sight Word approach as the “. A typical reading using this method:
“ ?? (send signal through the overworked bundle of nerves connecting the two hemispheres of the brain to find the whole picture of the unknown word and bring it back to place in the sentence) ?? (send message across to retrieve… ) (“ .”) ?? (send message across for retrieval) …… “ Oh!
Educators would have us believe that dyslexia descended upon us like some virus from a crashing meteor to spread swiftly and widely to only English speaking children. Ah, no. Dyslexia is not a scientific condition with a genetic lifelong sentence. A child with the label needs a skilled reading teacher, not a team of expensive specialists.
For those given the word as a label for a child, insist that the educational plan be written to specify the teaching and remediation of and the entire . Express the expectation that the remediation be done with a sense of urgency, with the child to be released from special services at the earliest possible date. Request that such plans be clearly worded and expressly defined in the child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). Do not sign the IEP until and unless such specific wording is included. Remember, is an term, not a scientific one.
–John Ruskin, 1819-1900
Linda Schrock Taylor [send her mail] is a reading specialist, writer, and retired teacher. She is the author of Read Better! For Adults and Teens, a manual for those wanting to read better with greater ease and more efficiency. The book includes short important lessons for use of the code in which English is written, followed by 80 practice stories arranged incrementally, ranging in difficulty from mid-elementary through college levels, with graded scoring for charting progress. Linda is now writing Spell Better, her second in a series for teens and adults. Visit Linda’s website to see lesson samples: http://www.ReadWriteSpellBetter.com.