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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Gifted Dyslexic or Right Brained? Hmmm....

I just read a PDF that got me hot and bothered. It was attached to an email. I don't have a link. It was along the lines of this, and by the same authors. I often appreciate what they have to say, but I get weary of the dx approach.

Again, it's the "these kids are underachieving and need remediation". It's "here's what's wrong with them, and here's how to change it." Sheesh! Enough already!

Both of these bloggers say it better than I can.
http://www.throwingmarshmallows.com/right-brained-faq/general/where-can-i-learn-more-about-this-learning-style.html
http://applestars.homeschooljournal.net/an-introduction-to-the-creative-right-brained-learner/

I still have a fundamental disagreement with the premise of the article. They view these right brained characteristics as a problem, yet I don't think they are. I would argue that school is simply an institution that has been built around left brained traits rather than having room for right brained learners. Yes, in the institution of school RBers look like they have disabilities. In school RBers might need accommodations. In a place designed by RBer's LBer's would look pretty disabled too. It would be like making someone who is excellent at arithmetic, but awful at creative writing, keep pounding away at a novel that they have no interest in writing. It's like trying to make an nonathletic 5' tall 40 something female (me) into a professional basket ball player. It just doesn't make sense.

No one diagnosed me with dyslexia until I was 2 years into my engineering degree. So how much of a disability do I really have? My brain works differently then a lot of folks, but I think that the thing that makes spelling difficult is interlinked with what makes me - me. The music, the stories, the ability to see the way things connect and then bring that to others - I wouldn't trade all that to be a better speller. I tried to fit in. I worked as a payroll accountant. I was a secretary. I earned a living in LB jobs, but I wasn't very good at them and I hated it. How many excellent secretaries and accountants can design a bridge, write creatively, or play multiple instruments? If they can't, or don't want to, it doesn't make them disabled, does it?

The flaw is in the system, not the children. In school these right brained bright and motivated kids are told that there is something wrong with them. They are labeled, diagnosed, singled out, sometimes drugged. Is it a surprised if they become full of shame and self loathing? Why should we wonder that they start to have behavior problems in school? If this is a pattern that is repeated enough that SO many people notice that academic papers and books and diagnosis's are written, why is it we keep blaming the kids? Many of the problems described come AFTER the child has been taught that there is something wrong with him. It's pretty hard to behave well, to trust the system, when someone is asking the impossible of you. It's pretty hard to have good self esteem when you've been told continuously that there's something fundamentally wrong with you. What would it be like to be held to a standard you couldn't possibly meet? Either the child believes in himself and bucks the system, or believes the system, and turn on himself.

It's nearly impossible to make the institution of school work for RBers. It's so easy to shift the perspective and see that when allowed to play to their strengths, rather than continually try to fix weaknesses that are inherent to their strengths, they take off and FLY!

It's a fundamental paradigm shift. Focus on an individual's strengths, not their weaknesses. I mean really! Do we make professional engineers take remedial creative writing? Do professional wrestlers need calculus? In the real world, the adult world, we focus on what we're good at. If we really need to work on something we do. If that doesn't help, we figure out a work around and move on.

I get very nervous when we define a narrow place as "normal" and then work to get everyone there. "Normal" people don't write science fiction, design micro-processors, compose opera, paint masterpieces.... Yes, sometimes these traits can be disabling, but it's important to make sure it's a true disability, and not just a mismatch with an unnecessary system.

There's a reason there are so many different kind of people in the world. We need ALL of them. We need all of us.

1 comment:

Kerri South said...

Hey, I did read it :)
Kerri