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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

The Cause and Elimination of Reading Disability

The Cause and Elimination of Reading Disability

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The vast majority of reading disability stems from the way we typically teach reading. Neuropsychologists speak of the indirect phonological route to meaning which in Education terms translates into phonetic decoding. The printed word is converted to its sound and from that sound we derive meaning. It is rather convoluted but amazingly effective. I learned that way and so did many others. It has advantages in case you come across an unfamiliar word that is in your auditory vocabulary and is phonetically regular. One disadvantage is that it must be unlearned for someone to practice speed reading. But the major disadvantage is that some people cannot make that conversion and we label them as reading disabled. Teach to strength is a primary directive of education, but with respect to phonetic decoding this is ignored. An exception is the deaf for whom phonetic decoding makes no sense. But in general remediating the defective system is the establishment approach. Organizations such as Orton Gillingham are based it. Books and courses are based on fixing a broken system. Why can't reading disabled students have the same advantages as deaf students?

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