We know that all children have unique strengths and needs. But can our schools do the job at helping each child excel to its full potential?
Sadly, most of us would answer that question with a definite no. And the failure of our educational system is nowhere as evident as with children with dyslexia.
What is dyslexia?
Children with dyslexia might show several symptoms, some of which are listed below:
- Trouble with reading and spelling, occasionally putting letters the wrong way round
- Slow reading
- Confusing similar looking letters and words such as ‘b’ and ‘d’ or ‘pat’ and ‘tap’
- Poor concentration
- ADHD, over 40% of children with dyslexia have it
- Reluctance to read and write
- Low self-esteem
- Otherwise they are bright and alert
Notice how many of these symptoms are only loosely connected with poor reading. Many of the symptoms are psychological, and clearly a result of our ‘one-size-fits-all’ educational system.
Why would reading difficulty be connected with low self-esteem? Because these children are being told that they are stupid if they can’t read and write well.
The fact is that dyslexia does not affect intelligence at all.
Why would dyslexia be connected with ADHD? Because dyslexic children have trouble concentrating in an educational setting that is not designed with them in mind.
One stat shows exactly how well our educational system is dealing with children which needs are different than the norm: 80% of children in special education for a learning disability have dyslexia.
But is dyslexia a learning disability? That depends on your perspective. It is true that dyslexia makes it difficult for a student to excel in our education system, which was not designed for them. But who says that our educational system has the right standards?
Where dyslexic people excel: Art, science, business
In fact, there is evidence that dyslexic people excel in other areas, in which they have an advantage over others.
- Identifying and memorizing complex visual images. In fact, many dyslexic people are astrophysicists, because that is a field in which better visual processing gives one a distinct advantage
- Pattern recognition, making sense of complex relationships between seemingly unrelated things. That skill is very useful in science and mathematics.
- Better special knowledge. Dyslexic people are better at manipulating 3D objects in their mind. It’s not surprising that many top architects are dyslexic.
- Creativity. Many of the most creative thinkers, both in business and in art were dyslexic. Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs were dyslexic. So was Pablo Picasso. Dyslexia did not stop them from achieving their goals. It might have helped them.
Despite all that, dyslexia is still treated as a disability by our school system. And the damage this does is immeasurable. Mostly to the self-esteem to the children who internalize the opinion that ‘they are just not that bright’.
That is why individual approach to the student is important. For dyslexic people as well as for everyone else. We are all unique in some way, and all of us don’t ‘conform’ to some standard set by the educational system.
Luckily, high-quality tutoring has become more available than ever, and it might just be the key for many students to bridge that gap, and realize their full potential.