Thursday, January 15, 2009

Expertise

The instant 'experts' who 'bravely speak out' against the prevailing consensus are with us again. Now it is the turn of dyslexia to be the target. Graham Stringer, Labour MP for Blackley, thinks it is a "cruel fiction".
"The education establishment, rather than admit that their eclectic and incomplete methods for instruction are at fault, have invented a brain disorder called dyslexia," said the MP.
Note the language; it is the little man against the powerful establishment, a hint of conspiracy and, of course, there is the invocation of the "dyslexia industry", a very useful technique if you want to ignore vast piles of evidence and research.

The 'industry' itself is unamused. Dyslexia Action have responded with a sense of weary resignation,
Once again dyslexia seems to be making the headlines for all the wrong reasons. It is frustrating that the focus should be on whether dyslexia exists or not, when there is so much evidence to support that it does.
It is a mistake to mix up dyslexia, a wide spectrum of disorders, with literacy. It makes aspects of literacy harder to acquire, but dyslexics can overcome it with support. I have worked with dyslexic students and colleagues, all highly qualified, but with varied individual needs depending on the specific nature of their disability. I have also seen the damage that is done to people when dyslexia has remained unidentified before we managed to pick it up in adult education and begin remedial action. In my everyday working experience it is very real indeed and its denial risks unnecessary damage to dyslexic individuals.

Stringer's clinching argument is that,
If dyslexia really existed then countries as diverse as Nicaragua and South Korea would not have been able to achieve literacy rates of nearly 100%.
The United Nations Human Development Report for 2007/8 gives Nicaragua an adult literacy rate of 76.7%.

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