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Friday, July 18, 2003

In My Life

On days like this when work is mainly uninteresting, regarding dyslexia (I've got pretty good mechanisms to deal with my dyslexia, day-to-day), I'll try to recount some of the more poinient memories of dyslexia in my life.

These first two are easily the two that had most obvious impact on my life and how my understanding of dyslexia can effect it.

The first was when I actually found out. Unlike many kids who get assessed, I was looking forward to it. I was a very mature, bright 10 year old (and now look at me :) ). But VERY UNHAPPY! I'd already started to hate (yes hate) school, even though I answered most of the questions in class. I didn't know what the problem was. All I knew was, I'd crumple my brow with frustration trying to keep up when people were writing, I simply couldn't read aloud and teachers called me lazy. They weren'y meen about it. They did it to my face as well as behind my back :)

Even as a bright kid, even now as a person working in the field of dyslexia support and research, I couldn't and can't explain exactly why I couldn't read quickly, but I could read Lugwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and understand every word, and every concept - as long as I had a month to read it in.

The frustration was fairly unbarable at times. Just having no better explination than "I am trying". As other kids figured out full stops, I was stuggling to make a legible word (yet I won art prizes). When they had all mastered the comma, I had just started to worry about full stops. I still can't punctuate well. Sentence structure is still a killer. Spelling was just a non-starter. I was hopeless. One teacher (previously the only one I'd liked) made me stand up as she made a joke about me to the class. I'd finished my painted easer egg first. "This must be the first time Philip has finished first". Every one laughed. I knew that a painted easter egg was not my main goal at school. I knew this was why she found it funny. I knew school was going to be a long hard struggle. I was 10.

Then a teacher got ill one day, and a supply teacher came in. Within a short time she was easily my favorite teacher :) She paid more attention to me because I was slow. And not in a humiliating way. She didn't tire of me answering questions. She told my parents she thought I should get assessed. She saved what my life now is. Thanks Mrs Dobson!

So my parents paid the Ed psych. Not something every family could afford. Not something every family can afford. Something that shoud be paid for by the Government!

So I turned up to see the a man in the suit. He seemed nice enough. He sat me down, and we did a the WISC and a few other tests. Some were a struggle, but the thing that made an impact, the thing that made my life seem dealable with again, was that some things were easy. Easy in a fun way. Stuff that seemed important (otherwise why would they test how good I was at it), and they didn't have questions hard enough. They ended up having to use the adult WAIS instead. I was 10. I was happy. I wasn't lazy or stupid. I was of a very high IQ (unmeasurable on their tests in some areas) and had dyslexia. This seemed like a much more favourable state of affairs to the week before.

I remember the day better than yesterday. If it hadn't happened, I knew my life would have been different. If I hadn't realised that then, then my next most inmportant truning point would really hammer it home.

I'll write about the next 'big moment' tomorrow.


Thursday, July 17, 2003

Well I said it would happen. Todays entry will be about the current JISC mail discussion. A-levels v Diplomas.

Long story short - I don't want to see a diploma system (as I currently understand highschool diplomas). It's a lazy way to educate, in my humble. One size does NOT fit all. But I do think we could do with changing the system, to reflect the change in the way we use and distribute knowledge in modern 'western' society.

Here's what the TV is telling us:

International Baccalaureate Coming to Britain


My posting to the JISC Mail forum:

I don't know enough about this to say much either but... I do think that we
should look at how knowledge and how we use it is changing. As with may uni
courses, mine had been made into a four year Msci the year before I started,
because they simply couldn't cram all the relevant topics into a three year
course. It's the same for most courses, at most levels. Relevant knowledge
is growing! Saying we should know more about everything is a little
idealistic and saying we should know less about more, is no solution. So we
should come up with new and improved structures to teaching and assessment
and qualification.

I'd like to see more advanced learning skills courses (lessons on how to
teach yourself/e-learning) as this is becoming more valuable in the work
place. But specialist knowledge will always be important. A-levels will
always be a useful indicator to a person's ability to learn a specific topic
in relative detail. So why not just keep the A-level qualification (maybe I
like them coz I did well :¬), but make general studies (if it's still
around), a real subject, with real merit in the work place? Something that
can show the abilities being assessed by the putative new system and that
teaches the skills required to acquire the knowledge.

Make sense?

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Well I've started my trek through syberspace. Splitting infinitives where no dyslexics have split infinitives before.

I'm already starting to find boundries that I did not realise were there. Google, which I had thought was nearing omnisience, is in fact far from it. I've already started looking into search technology, due to its limitations.

I've found that, although great for most things, Google is not really a "search" engine. It is a slow, inificient algorthim. A VERY useful one. But it does not let you search "The Web". For example; if you try to veiw the 600th result for any given key word combo, you'll find you can't.

Now most of the time, you might think "so what", but think about it. When you type in a word, say "dyslexia", its first page is reported to be the first 10 out of 360,000 results (ie the pages it has crawled which it deems significant). Which means, if its got the order just slightly wrong, you're missing some of the best stuff. In fact, nearly ALL the best stuff. 99.8333% of the best stuff.

So search technology is my "next big thing". I'm obviously not alone in thinking this, but sometimes you have to see things for youself.

However, I do hope not to get side tracked too long and actually manage to get some research done. If I do, you'll be sure to find some good info on dyslexia and the web coming your way in the next couple of weeks.

Phil

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Great news!!!

The site I could only hint about a few postings ago is now available to you all! :)

www.dyslexia-portal.co.uk

I don't want to say anything other than go there now.


Monday, July 14, 2003

Hello all. I've been programming again today. As always, a new project brings new motivation. Which may mean my blog suffers.

No huge news on the dyslexia front, although I'm about to start a structured sift through google's top 600 sites. This is partially due to me looking for folk to swap links with, but also to find out whats currently visible on the web. I will of course be using Read-e

I've been getting a bit more feedback. Please send me some if you can.

I'm looking into adding a few new features, as well as making a slimmed verion for all IE versions.

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