Volume 3 • #8 • June 2004


When I first started teaching dyslectic students back in 1969, they were scooped up a few at a time from each school and bussed to a small school-house in the morning for lessons. It was a disaster, as the other kids immediately labeled the bus “the dummy bus”. So they changed the system and put one teacher in each school.

Well, that didn’t work, either, because the State Board of Education, in its infinite wisdom, decided that there were three categories of kids who couldn’t learn properly in the usual school setting but were entitled to an education, anyhow. So they classified them as retarded, dyslectic, and emotionally disturbed and began requiring special classes for them.
And that didn’t work, either, because the parents of the retarded kids understandably objected to having their kids labeled stupid. So the DoE, in a futile effort to please everybody, lumped all the kids into one category called Children with Special Needs. And they set up something called Special Education, or SPED, which was to solve everything.

And that didn’t work, either, because then school systems began lumping all the SPED kids into something called Resource Rooms which were supposed to be taught by teachers who were specialists in all kinds of problems. Now since the teaching techniques appropriate to dyslectic, retarded, and emotionally disturbed students are all different, resource rooms were totally ineffective—-at least for the kids with dyslexia, many of whom were brighter than average and weren’t delighted to be in classes with super-slow ones, or little wise-guys who laughed at a student who couldn’t spell.

So that didn’t work, either. Now we have something even more expensive and less effective, called the inclusion method. Here a dyslectic kid has an aide (read that, baby-sitter) who goes with him to class, explains the assignment and what the teacher is saying. This is embarrassing for the student, horrendously expensive and doesn’t do the one thing that the dyslectic student needs, which is to LEARN TO READ.

Until dyslexia becomes a respectable word I suggest that the extra-curricular courses in school be art, music, gym, computers, and linguistics. If a child were in a linguistics class and his pals asked him what he did there, he could say, “Mostly we study how words are put together, and we learn a lot of spelling rules and extra grammar. I like it, because I can’t spell worth a nickel and this helps me keep out of trouble with the teachers.”

In this country, there is no shame in being a lousy speller. I have even seen gross mistakes on the captions on CNN! If you can’t read, you are a dummy. If you can’t spell, well, neither can most people very well, and there are always wives, secretaries and spell-check programs to bail out the worst of us.

Now the funny thing is that if you pour spelling rules by the bucket into the left hemisphere of a child’s brain, he will- - guess what? – LEARN TO READ! Yes, he may even learn to spell pretty well. But as I said. . . . .

Teaching Tip:

Can’t spell, either? No wonder, since the last time spelling rules were taught systematically was in the early 1900’s. Most spelling today is nothing more than memorizing a list every week. Very unhelpful. At the end of the web site,, the spelling rules are collected in a usable form. I’ll bet you never heard of some of them.



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