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Rush to judge 'fails dyslexics'

Too many pupils with special needs are being ignored by teachers, a conference heard. Dorothy Lepkowska reports

The needs of dyslexics are being ignored by teachers in their rush to improve results and meet government targets, according to a study.

Researcher Joyce Hargrave-Wright said the individual talents and aptitudes of dyslexic people were diminished by an obsession with literacy.

Dr Hargrave-Wright, a consultant and lecturer in dyslexia, told a Glasgow conference the condition was seen as a learning disability when it should be acknowledged that some people learned in different ways.

She said the linguistic, artistic, mathematical and logical and visual talents displayed by most dyslexics were ignored by teachers and educationists.

Dr Hargrave-Wright, who is based in Cornwall, asked the Inclusive and Supportive Education Congress at Strathclyde university last week: "Who decided that literacy skills were the only worthwhile intelligence?

"Reading and spelling are artificial skills that have been imposed upon us.

Representing the world orally and visually are natural functions.

Representing thought in symbols is not natural, but now seems to be taken to be the only option."

Dyslexics tended to think laterally, but the world was "geared to linear organisation". "The conventional education system may be focusing on the wrong kinds of skills, leaving behind many of the people who have the most to offer," she said.

Dr Hargrave-Wright said a preoccupation remained with curing or changing dyslexics, or bringing them up to standard, rather than allowing them to learn to their strengths.

More emphasis should be placed in schools on positive strategies to help dyslexics to learn, including oral work such as discussions and debates, practical activities and out-of-school visits.

"Diverse brains should be accepted, but it is difficult in a classroom when children have to receive and ingest the same information in the same way," she said.

Should we not consider dyslexia as an 'effective difference', rather than an 'affective disability'?is available from


Some famous dyslexics who have excelled in their fields:


Hans Christian Andersen

Agatha Christie

F Scott Fitzgerald


John Lennon

Cher, right

Nigel Kennedy


Orlando Bloom

Tom Cruise

Walt Disney

Keanu Reeves


Sir Richard Branson

Henry Ford

FW Woolworth


Sir Winston Churchill

John F Kennedy

Woodrow Wilson

George Washington

Sports stars:

Muhammed Ali

Duncan Goodhew, right

Magic Johnson

Steve Redgrave

Jackie Stewart

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