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Dyslexic Advantage

July 15, 2014 Wow. If you haven’t seen this website yet, check it out. Join the conversation.

The website is hosted by the doctors who co-authored The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain, which I’ve just started reading. The opening pages are pretty exciting, for example:

“Look first at individuals with dyslexia when they’re reading or spelling or performing certain other language or learning tasks. From this perspective they appear to have a learning disorder; and with respect to these tasks, they clearly do. Now look at these individuals when they’re doing almost anything else – particularly the kinds of tasks they excel at and enjoy. From this new perspective they not only cease to look disabled, but they often appear remarkably skilled or even specially advantaged. … In this book we’ll argue for a radical revision of the concept of dyslexia: a “Copernican revolution” that places abilities rather than disabilities at the center of our ideas about what it means to be an individual with dyslexia.”

Sign me up for the revolution!

Why Don’t We Value Spatial Intelligence?

July 4, 2014

“We apparently tend to value people who can write, read, do math, and talk.  But if a student can’t do these things so well, we don’t recognize how brilliant some of them actually are.” Read more at Psychology Today

Spatial Creativity

July 3, 2014

“Nearly a century ago, a talent search conducted by Lewis Terman used the highly verbal Stanford-Binet [test] in an attempt to discover the brightest kids in California. This test identified a boy named Richard Nixon who would eventually become the U.S. president, but two others would miss the cut likely because the Stanford-Binet did not include a spatial test: William Shockley and Luis Alvarez, who would go on to become famous physicists and win the Nobel Prize.”

“Of those students in the top 1 percent of spatial talent, roughly 70 percent were not in the top 1 percent in either math or verbal talent—showing a large fraction of students having the high spatial but lower math/verbal profile.”


Dyslexia Research Update

June 25, 2014

“Several studies have suggested that intervention is most effective in kindergarten or first grade … However, you have to have several years of reading failure before you can get a diagnosis of dyslexia…” What’s the solution? Brain research. Read this article to learn more. 


The urge to declare

June 16, 2014

I was reading the current issue of WIRED magazine, which announces that virtual reality goggles have finally arrived, for real, seriously! In a sidebar to the article, the editors chide that “WIRED is uniquely positioned to herald the arrival of virtual reality. After all, we’ve been doing it for 20 years.” (scroll halfway down this page) They quote similar declarations from 1993, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2008. They thought they were right … every time.

It made me think about my October 2010 blog post, when I wrote “50skatekid worked!  The academic nosedive is a distant memory, and Logan is now holding steady at a comfortable cruising altitude!” I spoke too soon. Logan just finished tenth grade, and his grades were Cs and Ds. His teachers (including me, his English teacher) all did their best to motivate him, but he still doesn’t like to read and write. (No surprise. Who likes doing what you’re not good at?)

Watching the Ben Foss video posted below made me realize two things. First, unlike the technology for virtual reality, Logan is not an engineering problem to be solved. In his closing, (11:36) Ben reminds his fellow dyslexics in the audience that they are not broken. While living with dyslexia may be viewed as a problem to be solved, dyslexics don’t need fixing. That’s a critical distinction.

Second, I shouldn’t use Logan’s report card as a measurement of success. The goal I’m shooting for is not a better report card, per se. The goal is for Logan to look at himself in the mirror and say, “My brain is awesome. I’m an entrepreneur. I’m creative. I’m fun.” (2:05) He’s started to believe that. Stay tuned.

10 minute video – if you have a dyslexic child, watch this

June 16, 2014

Horace Mann

May 4, 2014

Horace Mann, was born on this day in Franklin, Massachusetts, in 1796. He grew up without much money or schooling, and what he did learn, he learned on his own at his local library, which had been founded by Benjamin Franklin. He was accepted into Brown University and graduated in three years, valedictorian of his class.” (5/4/2014 Writer’s Almanac) I love this combination of (unmentioned) real-world, hard-knocks education and library-based, self-taught academics. The recipe obviously worked for Horace Mann, “the father of American pubic education.”

South Kent, Connecticut

September 8, 2012

Two years ago, I boasted that 50skatekid worked. Logan returned to public school after our trip, and he earned a spot on the “B Honor Roll” during his first quarter of seventh grade. He spent middle school learning all the things that a teenager misses on the road with his dad – about friends, about girls. Now, he’s a student at South Kent School, which is a good match for his learning style. South Kent is a leading one-to-one iPad school, which appeals to Logan’s interest in technology. The students are all boys, and the curriculum is hands-on, based on the hero’s journey theme. This school understands that every student is on his own epic quest to find himself and to forge his own unique destiny. That’s why I took this job. That’s right, I teach tenth-grade English. So, in some ways, we’re on another adventure together.

Update: 9th grade, day 1

September 8, 2012

Logan 9/7/2012

A Teenage Quest on This American Life

July 31, 2012

If you were ever a teenager or you ever read science-fiction and fantasy novels, you should listen to this clip from This American Life.