M. Susan Grogan presents a convincing case for adjusting school curriculum for dyslexic learners in this compilation of research on such students.
A common, much misunderstood learning disability, dyslexia presents as “a problem with getting to the basic sounds of language, processing speed, and sometimes working memory.” However, traditional assessments of academic progress for dyslexics, asserts Grogan, fall far from a true measure of intelligence or potential.
The dyslexic brain, Grogan believes, is unique in its neuroplasticity. The science behind the condition suggests dyslexics depend on right hemisphere processing, not left, which is responsible for “language,” including speech, listening, number skills, and sequential thinking. Yet because of right brain dominance, dyslexics possess “extraordinary” skills, “gifts” that compensate for challenges with reading and writing.
Grogan’s nearly 90 interviews with dyslexics of all ages (who were asked what they like to do in and out of school/work) highlighted a pattern of interests and skills that accompany this slower yet broader right brain language processing. The interviews suggest a much “richer” distillation of language and abundance of abilities: minds that excel in hands-on learning, imagination and creativity, applied arts, athletics, determination, and leadership.
For Grogan, highly creative dyslexics need a new approach for measuring their achievement, one that integrates a science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) curriculum. Increased hands-on learning can boost their progress, as well as self-esteem.
The data and science Grogan presents is nothing new, but the book conveniently packages the topic as a useful read for educators lacking information or training about working with dyslexic students. Repetitive supportive anecdotes and data abound, however, and the treatise falls short of practical lessons, specific curriculum design, and useful applications for the classroom.
Teachers seeking licensing in dyslexic special education and home-schooling parents will appreciate this broad overview. But the question of how to connect Grogan’s understanding of the dyslexic student to improving literacy largely remains unanswered.
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