After I had attended the Quebec Teachers’ conference in November 2013, I was profoundly changed by one particular presentation on dyslexia and math. That speaker for that talk had delivered one of the most thought-provoking, practical and habit-changing presentations that I had ever attended.
I cannot help but be fascinated at the prevalence of dyslexia in society (I recently heard that there are more dyslexic kids than children with ADHD). Although it is often referred to as a “gift”, I am not yet quite sure how. Here is what I do know…
Dyslexic are hard working, tenacious and intelligent people. They put in all kinds of extra efforts to interpret written text and decipher reading materials, tasks most of us take entirely for granted. Since they are accustomed to working 4-5 times harder than others, dyslexics often successfully go on to complete PhDs. I cannot help but imagine how hard it is to learn in a conventional system when your learning style is anything but conventional.
To satisfy my ongoing thirst for knowledge, I decided to download an audiobook written by Ben Foss called The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan. Mr. Foss has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business News, ABC, CNN, HBO, and the BBC.
The publication promised to change my perceptions and it certainly did. I took particular notice when the author explained all the sequential steps required for his dyslexic brain to produce a book first, then an audio book. He did not do this alone. Dyslexics speak a slightly different language and, even as adults, often need coaching to follow the verbal and written cues of the non-dyslexic world.
Citing the research of Drs. Brock, Fernette Eide and Casanova, the audiobook explains that dyslexics are inclined to be better at big picture thinking and weaker with fine details and nuances. Dyslexics tend to see the forest with ease (big picture) but struggle to see the trees (the details).
Unbelievably, I am still reflecting on everything I learned that day at the Teachers Convention and I am excited to begin the process of changing how I teach math and science. Even if I am not teaching this semester, I am eager to practice ways to ease the burden and mental fatigue experienced by dyslexics.