Thursday, August 8, 2013

"Negroponte is Dyslexic"

A few days ago I received the following brief email: “Subject: Nicholas Negroponte: Beyond Digital - Check out minute 46:00. Nicholas Negroponte is dyslexic.

I thanked the sender, Tom Massey, and noted that this video included two of my favorite people from years ago, Negroponte of the MIT Media Lab, introduced by Steward Brand of the Whole Earth Catalog and CoEvolution Quarterly. I noted that Negroponte did talk of his own dyslexia on his radio book tour programs long ago when Being Digital first came out (in 1995, a compilation of articles he had written for Wired magazine). 

Since then I have often quoted Negroponte on this in my own talks -- especially his observation that “dyslexia was so common on the MIT campus that locally it was called the MIT disease.” I have loved to make this point to primary school teachers (and parents) who think math is arithmetic and science is a bunch of facts to be memorized -- whereas, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth -- as I learned in preparing chapter 9, “Images, Computers and Mathematics,” of In the Mind’s Eye

Indeed, the main point is that many dyslexics are extremely poor at the low level skills required in primary school but may be extremely well suited to the high level thinking and skills required in math and science in graduate school and professional work. Few understand this. This should change -- as soon as possible. Thanks again, Tom Massey – and Nicholas Negroponte.