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Volume 3 • #11 • Oct. 2004


The term, flip-flop, in today’s political arena has been given the nasty connotation of indecisiveness or, worse yet, lack of integrity. It seems to me that it is actually sensible to change one’s mind if new facts appear that make one’s original position questionable. History is rife with examples of disasters that were the result of stubborn insistance on tired ideas and unverified information.

This was brought home to me recently by an e-mail from a mom who was worried because her teen-age son hated the classical music she had for his lessons and wanted only rap. Well, I have always recommended that the distractor for the right hemisphere be music, because at least I knew that the right was happy processing music and the input would be qualitatively different from the words coming into the left side. Besides a neurologist had done a study in which he had sent a verbal exercise to the left hemisphere while sending a musical discrimination task to the right, which is exactly what we do with Enhanced Lateralization. The good doc had found that this split input produced increased activity in the left hemisphere, which is exactly what we wanted with Enhanced Lateralization.

On the other hand, it is also true that when I was at the 2002 Rodin Dyslexia Conference in Munich, a Swedish teacher came up to me in a state of high excitement to talk about distracting one hemisphere while the other was given its phonics lesson. She had been doing something similar with astounding results and wanted to compare notes. What she had done was to tape the evening news and use the talking heads for her right hemisphere distractor! The kids apparently thought it great fun and she was getting improvement results that were on a par with mine.

It is also true that Ihave heard that sometimes when a person has a stroke that knocks out the language area of his left hemisphere, leaving him unable to speak, that he can often sing songs that he learned in childhood, words and all, even though he can’t say them without the tune!

So perhaps just music isn’t the only distractor that works, or even, if the Swedish lady is to be believed, the best one. Maybe the trick is that if the two sides hear different things, that it is the forced concentration on the left hemisphere contents that makes the difference. Maybe Dan Rather would be more useful than he ever imagined if his evening pronouncements could help kids learn to read. Now wouldn’t THAT be something?

In any case, maybe-- just maybe-- I will have to flip-flop. I told the lady with the teen age son to go ahead and try rap. But I don’t think that I will write Dan Rather just yet to tell him that a cohort of his listeners may get a surprising benefit from his wisdom when they make a real effort not to hear him.

Teaching Tip:

We have put the Phonics Book on a disk for two reasons. Any self-respecting kid today would rather look at a computer screen than a piece of paper, even if they have exactly the same thing on them. More important, the disk can be partly color-coded, which helps a lot in teaching. But be sure you put the disk in your computer and not your CD player!

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Archives (2001 files in .doc format):

April 2004 - Vol. 3 #6 November 2002 - Vol. 2, #3
March 2004 - Vol. 3 #5 October 2002 - Vol. 2, #2
February 2004 - Vol. 3, #4 September 2002 - Vol. 2, #1
December 2003 - Vol. 3, #3 August 2002 - Vol. 1, #11
October/November 2003 - Vol. 3, #2 July 2002 - Vol. 1, #10
September 2003 - Vol. 3, #1 May 2002 - Vol. 1, #9
August 2003 - Vol 2, # 12 March 2002 - Vol. 1, #8
July 2003 - Vol. 2, #11 February 2002 - Vol. 1, #7
June 2003 - Vol. 2, #10 January 2002 - Vol. 1, #6
May 2003 - Vol. 2, #9 December 2001 - Vol. 1, #5
April 2003 - Vol. 2, #8 November 2001 - Vol. 1, #4
March 2003 - Vol. 2 #7 October 2001 - Vol. 1, #3
January 2003 - Vol. 2, #5 September 2001 - Vol. 1, #2
December 2002 - Vol. 2, #4 August 2001 - Vol. 1, #1



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