READING AND DYSLEXIA
The best process on educational development and research in neuroscience have to meet and work together on the ways of learning to read and write that not make the children - especially those weaker or divergent - 'Prisoners of the instrument'. That is to say not true 'readers', but 'decipherers'.
In our experience, these procedures are found particularly in the natural method, a method that is not based or phonic-syllabic neither purely global, but that go along with the processes of research and learning styles of the subjects
But no contribution can be neglected: the Popular Literacy from Paulo Freire as the elaboration of Smith and Foucambert on reading, as the Teberosky and Ferreiro’s researches
For some years we have been reading on the newspapers , and not only, that the 'blame of the rising in cases of dyslexia and learning difficulties would be the method used mainly in school, or that , this method would reinforce these difficulties by identifying the global method as the main cause of this increase in failures in the school population
This gives the effect of a return of many teachers to the techniques of literacy considered more 'simple' and 'safe', but that impoverish and trivialize the fundamental experience of the written code.
One of the terms of the debate seems to have disappeared: up to 70s we discussed on ways of learning to read and write dividing between supporters of the phonetic method
(the 'bricks' of linguistic construction, to the meaning they landed after having learned the words and composition in 'little thoughts') and the global method (the meaning immediately, then words and sentences).
Today seems to prevail the graph - audio matching and the assimilation of the 'form' of words.
IT was missing in that period, the outcome of researches on the construction of written language done in Argentina and Mexico by Emilia Ferreiro and Ana Teberosky mid 70's, which I now we have.
Emilia Ferreiro condemns the methods of reading instruction that make learning difficult and unstable because they depart from the submission of letters and syllables.
Many authors, from Freinet on, had raised the observation that, following a similar progression in the spoken language, no one would learn to speak.
Ferreiro considers a serious lack of respect of procedures for the research of children in the period of construction of the written language do not take into account the different phases and believes that these procedures reveal as transitional phases, phases that are often exchanged for signs of diseases and not evidence of the processes of thought.
'Many times you diagnose learning disorders than comparing adult model ignoring the trend .... We have seen too much disease there where there were moments in the evolution of normal and legitimate problems that your child tries to solve. I consider this urgent : to depatologize this field. I do not deny that there are learning disabilities, but surely there is less disease than the one we helped to invent, validating, in terms of psychological diagnosis, a school decision which you have to t call into question '. (E. Ferreiro,...., pp. 36-37)
Giacomo Stella in the 80s distinguished between authentic and dyslexic and poor readers, readers whose reading practices were not sufficiently encouraged and supported so as to become independent procedures of research on writing, but always depend on a sound and a subsequent synthesis (fusion) slow and laborious.
'Ferreiro endorses and supports what Jean Foucambert had shown in' How to become readers' – “Association française de lecture” which argues that dyslexia is a disorder of deciphering and not of reading.
The decipherment, says Foucambert, goes on a sound track, which takes a longer time to be run. Therefore people who barely recognize signs-sound correspondences have more difficulties in establishing a relationship between parts of speech, and then to extract meaning from a text.
Foucambert also argues that the success in reading and understanding is related to the previous knowledge of the subject, at least 80% of the terms contained in the text.
This requires, from teachers, a careful selection of 'good' texts adapted to the semantic skills, vocabulary concerning the world of the subjects.
Bruno Bettelheim in 'Learning to read' had carefully analyzed the textbooks in use, getting the conclusion that they contained a number of obsolete or unfamiliar terms and levels of platitudes such as jointly make intelligent and curiosity children lose their interest in reading to children, thereby preventing access to many basic learning.
Bruno Ciari wrote 'The large maladjusted person” alluding to school. Today the fear is that instead of thinking about how to 'cure' the school trying to modify the deficits, shortfalls, the misfits, to treat the subject without having the patience, time, tools, without trying to understand, without investing training and research.
The problem of dyslexia, dysorthography and of dyscalculia (the 'DSA') is not new in Italy and time to time returns to occupy the concerns of teachers and families: we all remember the Pirro’s book , a journalist who has struggled to help his son, feeling himself abandoned by the institutions;
We also remember works as that of Jadoulle, Bonistalli and the MCE in Florence in the '70s that identified not only in the perception but also in a proper psychomotor practice forms of human intervention and significant), the Frostig cards, Doman and Delicate suggestions, the work of Giacomo Stella. Associations of families who are also born as the AID
At Rimini CEIS is established a service specialized in the treatment that is based not only on cards but on the recovery of the body schema, on the representation and on coordinated in space, on the internalization of postural patterns and graph-motors
The Minister Moratti has given to the families the feeling that the problem is known and can be faced in a coordination between schools and services, but the great part of the diagnosis and intervention are assigned to private services, s and the indication of work to the school is of is assuming information (the same as if it were a report or a clinical intervention in the classroom context), families are mainly provided with schools permissions and the use of tools mediators and integrators;
but these are not enough if there is not a corresponding training and incentive to provide more stimulation and a multi-modal learning, and if this recommendation is not extended to all styles of development and learning strategies that we can find in a in a class.
In essence, if the teaching is predominantly verbal and supported by the manual work and did not vary in depth in the direction of knowledge construction through social relations and research staff, and the ongoing review of its models through the support and contribution of the teacher and the group, students with ID or with poor basic approach will always make superhuman efforts to follow the pace imposed on the class.
The 'dispensatory' memorandum, if not accompanied by adequate educational information, could easily confirm a right to a 'reduced' knowledge when for problematic children should be realized an increase of stimuli and school hours, with appropriate comments to be spread among the different educators not t only exemptions that may weaken self-esteem, creating dependency, reducing their independence, when action is needed on the present potential on the 'attribution of skills (see Varisco, 'The portfolio', Carocci
Once the blind were exempted from the writing of mathematics because it was thought that they did not have spatial intelligence. Today we have blind mathematicians and computer scientists (A Tuscan woman is the first blind graduate in computer science in Europe and has obtained a PhD candidate competing with the not blind people).
Research in the U.S.A. reported that the blind are in danger of becoming illiterate, because 'exempt' from the Braille (only 10% know it and practice), and the risk is similar in Italy.
Teachers (compared to a so great scientific equipment we have today) are perhaps fearful of possible errors, with the feeling of not being able to fully meet the expectations of families, and their task is often delegated to specialists, giving up a leadership role, orientation, boost to a cognitive apprenticeship, to a deepening of their teaching skills, with a return to 'simple' and the technician.
So we have children that after school go to private lesson for reading, one hour per day, in an clinical environment - the child and the adult going beyond the relational aspects, emotional, communication between subjects children who are intrinsic to the real reading if this can not be reduced to a mere technicality activity
The costs for families are high because they requires the trust to a number of technicians, speech therapists, psychomotor therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, including the costs of participation in technical working groups at these schools.
Yet the same research that has examined the phenomenon of dyslexia as largely or purely neurological, puts forward the possibility, the hypothesis that dyslexia may be an effect and not due to bad habits in reading as claimed by Stella and Ferreira.
Oliver Sacks talks about the 'mysterious brain's ability to learn, adapt and grow'. Which suggests that a static view of dyslexia as a birth defect, biologically determined, it is perhaps not the best nor the most useful approach to care of the problems of children
When science, some part of science, is too sure of some targets and do not compare them with other positions, assumptions, practices, seems to miss the fundamental aspect of science itself, which is research, comparison and doubt. Research is not only about hypothetical causes, but also of the way to go 'around the obstacle', to make of a problem a resource.
That is why the natural method, with its many strategies that it implements, seems to be a response to many doubts and anxieties, an answer and a humanistic development.
Trad . M.Fontana