Never thought I’d say this about a pop star – but what a courageous man Shane Lynch of Boyzone is!
Heartfelt thanks go to him for taking the enormous and emotive step of publicising his struggle with reading in the programme on Channel Five last night; Dyslexic – My Secret Past. (http://www.channel5.com/shows/my-secret-past/episodes/shane-lynch-dyslexic)
We need far more like him to make it not a secret. And to make it nothing to be ashamed of.
It’s school’s fault it was considered shameful. For years those of us who can read easily put down those who couldn’t, considering them to be not as intelligent.
But thanks to the gallant attempts of people like Shane, highlighting the problem, maybe us readers will be put in our place a little bit.
For maybe it is us who are the unintelligent ones – especially some of the teachers – who have assumed that children who can’t read are stupid or lazy. Because it’s a stupid assumption on our part to think that kids who can’t read would choose to sit in a classroom not being able to do what thirty of their other mates can do and take the humiliation because of it. No one would choose that.
Look at it another way; would brilliant singer/song writers like Shane call us stupid or lazy because we couldn’t sing or write songs? Of course not. Yet reading is a skill just like singing – it is NOT a reflection of a person’s intelligence. Reading is a skill that needs certain conditions in the way our brain interprets print to be present. Singing is a skill that needs certain conditions – like an acute ear for pitch and good vocal chords for a start – to be present. That’s all…you see where I’m coming from.
Singing is a skill – not an indication of how clever we are overall. Reading is a skill just the same. We are NOT unintelligent because we can’t sing. We are NOT unintelligent because we can’t read.
The trouble is, learning and education in schools has been heavily reliant on print. You’d think in this day and age they could do something more variable. But because of that approach school has become an increasing nightmare for many children, thousands of dyslexics among them.
And that’s why many parents with dyslexic children are turning to home education. Home educating means that you can approach a child’s learning in so many other ways which do not rely on the printed word and which are more suited to their needs. Experimental ways, practical ways, experiential or conversational ways, visual or image heavy – rather than print heavy – ways. There are so many different approaches you can take to learning, other than through reading and writing. Home education gives you the opportunity to turn a dyslexic child’s education from a nightmare in print to a fulfilling success. We need the same choice of approaches in schools and to lose the stigma attached to non-reading.
Thank you Shane for continuing to highlight the difficult and emotive issue of not being able to grasp the skill of reading in a school setting. For it is only in a school setting that it really impacts on education.
Dyslexics, like all of us, have other incredible skills just like Shane and his singing and song writing. It’s those which need focussing on, not one small inability to read. And it is only the inability in the rest of us, teachers among them, to see that which makes it such a problem for so many children.
Useful links on Dyslexia from the web: