Monday, May 13, 2013

Brain School by Howard Eaton

This book was presented to me by June, my lecturer from my Post-Graduate Certificate course in Specific Learning Differences. She wanted me to find out more about the Arrowsmith programme and this was a book that was just about that. I had been intrigued by the revolutionary programme in a book I had read earlier titled, The Brain That Changes Itself, and had been waxing lyrical about it that June decided to loan me her unread copy of this book.

It did not fail to disappoint.

This book presents the journey of Howard Eaton, himself someone who has dyslexia, on his educational journey growing up, how he set up Eaton Learning Centre, a centre for assessing children with learning difficulties, and how he went on to set up the Eaton Arrowsmith School.

The book consists mainly of the profiles of various students of this school. It details how they were before entering the school (mostly underachieving), how the Arrowsmith helped them do up a comprehensive cognitive profiling, what they did in school, and finally, the results they achieved after 2 - 3 years in the programme.

Their stories are nothing short of remarkable.

Many had issues that even schools dealing with dyslexia could not handle. These include a severe lack of social skills, motor difficulties, verbal expression difficulties among others. However, after being in the Arrowsmith programme that dealt directly with the underlying cognitive deficits, these children blossomed and overcame these difficulties.

All of them had psycho-educational assessments performed on them before and after the programme and they simply blew my mind.

All of them showed substantial improvement in all areas of whatever they were tested in, showing that the brain is indeed plastic. 

The Arrowsmith programme is founded on the underlying principle that the brain is plastic. Its basis on neuroplasticity was groundbreaking. However, many educational practitioners chose not to believe in it, hindering the widespread use of the programme. This book aims to persuade the reader to embrace the programme and perceive the impact the programme would have on countless of students who are only languishing in their current educational systems.

This is a read for all those dealing with students with learning difficulties, dyslexia or otherwise. This book is also a must read for parents with such kids and would inspire them not to give up hope on their kids. Finally, all teachers ought to read this too, as roughly 10% of all kids in their classrooms would have a learning disability of one form or another.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Gift of Dyslexia by Ronald D. Davis and Eldon M. Braun

I picked up this book at the library in DAS Academy that is on the 5th floor of REX House. I had to read this book to produce a 1000 word essay on diagnostic screening assessments for one of my post-graduate modules for a certificate in Specific Learning Differences.

This book was recommended by my lecturer June and she said it is one revolutionary book that provides a different perspective on the issue of dyslexia. For the uninitiated, dyslexia is a neurological condition that hinders otherwise intelligent people from reading, writing and spelling effectively. They often have 'b' and 'd' reversal issues which is a common symptom.

It's a fascinating read! The author, Ron Davis, has a different perspective of what causes dyslexia - he says it's a "disorientation" problem. His theory is that people who have dyslexia think in pictures and when they encounter "trigger words", or words that are abstract, e.g. a, and, the, they become disoriented and this is the main cause for the reading problems.

His solution? Orientation Counselling or the Alignment Procedure. Both methods teaches one how to use the "mind's eye" to prevent disorientation. The book continues to educate the reader with other techniques such as Symbol Mastery and various reading strategies to enhance the remediation for the student with dyslexia.

This book is a really interesting take on the said learning difficulty and it would do him no justice if you don't read the book if you are an educator who is involved with students who have dyslexia. The author himself has dyslexia and came up with the assessment method and remediation by himself. His website provides a brief overview on what the book might be like. Check it out today!