Friday, June 17, 2011

Kids Designing Tests for Dyslexic Talents

Greetings. Sorry for long delay. More to come now, finally. I will start again with a brief story that stays in my mind. Recently, I gave a talk at a school for young dyslexics. In my slide series I made reference to the need for new assessment tools to properly measure the talents of dyslexics. Then, I rephrased my statement and said: "I want to design a test where dyslexics will get the top score and non-dyslexics will get the bottom score." To my surprise, the room broke out into loud spontaneous applause. I had not expected this. It had never happened like that before. Clearly, they are hungry for this. And I realized this was a project the kids should work on. Have them just jump in. Try to figure out what they are good at -- and how to measure it. They will repeat what is already known -- but it will be theirs. They will know how they got there. But they will probably come up with many new things as well -- or new attention to things that were thought to be unimportant. They will likely use new technologies and approaches not used by the well-trained professionals. They will be highly motivated. It would be like hands-on ("problem based") medical training. You start with the patient and just keep asking questions. They will better understand the old tests. They will be proud of creating some new tests and approaches. They will be proud of their own thoughtful observations. They would learn much. We would learn much. I think of this daily.


  1. This posted reminded me of something my now 21-yr-old son did. He was asked to draw his room. I expected to see a drawing straight on with no perspective. He turned in a drawing that showed his room as drawn from a corner on his ceiling, looking down. All perspectives on the furniture were almost spot on. That he even knew about perspective, in his own mind, was amazing to me.

    He was recently accepted as an intern, a sophomore computer engineering student into a group of graduate students, specifically because of his unique approach to solving problems and providing solutions. Didn't surprise me one bit.

  2. How old was he at the time? Great story. Do you still have the drawing?

  3. He was in first grade, so seven years old. I will have to look through my trunk. Three children worth of school work!

    It hasn't been an easy journey for him. He didn't learn to read on his own until age 13. He will take longer to get thru college. This internship has been a real boost for him and he calls me every night excited about what he is accomplishing and delighting his supervisors.

  4. Wonderful story Froggy, this is so often the case.
    The what I call 'liability of Dyslexia' is so easily seen and 'demonstrated' via miss spellings, reluctance, emotional difficulty etc.

    But the Gifts of the Dyslexic thought process and Dyslexic persons creativeness in problem solving and many other things are so often hidden, not brought out into the open for others to see, and hence people loose out on the opportunity to see and appreciate where they came from and the immense value of that process.

    I honestly believe...that most people would / could never really understand'HOW' those gifted Dyslexic results came about.

    And that's something that needs to be spread.
    The value, and the amazing breadth of those
    gifts that from what I can make out most only Dyslexics seem to hold.

    If you find your picture it would be so wonderful to see it.

    My Regards and best wishes
    David Dell.