Dyslexia and right-brained thinking

Many of my students have been diagnosed with dyslexia and I say the same thing to all of them:

Dyslexia is a gift, not a learning difficulty.

It breaks my heart to see the effect this label seems to have on the self-esteem and confidence of young people. Why do I consider it a gift? Because I have yet to meet a single dyslexic person who does not have an extraordinary ability to visualise and to manipulate mental imagery.

Dyslexia is a learning difference, not a learning difficulty.

The reason schools are so willing to dish out people labels is because they are, in many ways, still stuck in the 19th Century. But the human brain has evolved. More and more children are being born with a ‘right-brained’ learning preference. This is the intuitive, creative, artistic, image-inative (and thus very visual) side of the brain.

Our planet is beset with a multitude of problems, none of which can be solved with the same level of thinking that created them. Now, more than ever, we need happy, confident and healthy children, empowered to be their themselves and enabled to use their imaginations to heal and transform the world. Children with dyslexia are a gift to humanity! But schools are still focused on predominantly ‘left-brained’ teaching approaches, which feed the logical, rational side of the brain. Any child not fitting the one-size-fits-all teaching approach is handed a label and informed that he or she has a learning difficulty.

Proponents of the existing school system will be quick to point out that there is a greater awareness of different learning styles within schools. Yes, the words ‘visual’, ‘auditory’ and ‘kinaesthetic’ are thrown about a bit more these days. But this is nothing like the level of individualised attention required. Far too many teachers are happy to pay lip service to such ideas, all the while continuing to teach according to their own personal preferences.

I have yet to meet a single person diagnosed with dyslexia who has not been able to successfully spell the word ‘parallelogram’ forwards and backwards within 2 minutes of working with me. How is this possible? Because I teach a very simple visual technique. People with dyslexia think in pictures… so I show them how to think and learn using pictures! I have attempted to get into schools teaching such techniques but nobody wants to know. Why? Because the government has invested millions of pounds in ‘phonics’ teaching resources. English teachers, SENCOs and teaching assistants up and down the country have been taught (brainwashed into believing) that phonics is the way to improve literacy. But phonics is a largely auditory approach and is therefore completely inappropriate for visual learners – who are consequently made to feel there is something wrong with them.

Remember the controversy Galileo caused when he dared to go against conventional thinking by suggesting that the Sun was the centre of the universe? I wonder where science would be today if nobody had ever listened…..