Dyslexia and education

Table of Contents

The system is broken

A popular misconception is that dyslexia rates are increasing. However, experts say there are not significantly more people with dyslexia, but there is an increased understanding of learning disabilities.

Nevertheless, despite varying international statistics, most organizations speculate that between 5 and as many as 12% of the world’s population have dyslexia. With seven billion globally, that’s a great many people suffering from this learning difficulty and a great many more who remain undetected — perhaps for their whole lives.

The founder & CEO of Studyum is dyslexic. In part, Igor Dyachenko credits his dyslexia for his conception of the Studyum learning management system. Indeed, one of Igor’s aspirations is to disrupt traditional education systems by providing all students with an alternate, more energized, more intuitive, patient, and personalized learning or training experience. To understand why this systemic transformation is so urgently needed, one must first understand what dyslexia is and how society could view it differently.

Understanding dyslexia

The word ‘dyslexia’ derives from Greek, meaning ‘difficulty with words.’ The first case of developmental dyslexia was reported in the British Medical Journal, by Pringle-Morgan, on the 7th of November, 1896. During this time, learning difficulties were studied but only became widely recognized in 1939, when Dr. Alfred Struss and R. Heinz Werner published a paper on the subject.

Traditionally thought of as a learning disorder, dyslexia affects a part of the brain that processes language. It’s essentially an alternative way of thinking and, contrary to popular belief, enables flexibility, innovation, and the ability to solve complex problems through creative thinking.

With this in mind, perhaps we might benefit from adopting an alternate perspective? That is to say: Dyslexia is not a disability but a unique way of learning. Not only that, but dyslexia can offer a distinct set of advantages.

Many people with dyslexia (including Igor) attribute their heightened sense of imagination to the condition. Also, their inherent ability to see opportunities where others might well see problems. While perhaps not necessarily being ‘detail people,’ those with dyslexia often see the bigger picture. Is this a bad thing? Not at all! In a world of individuals, surely this is a beautiful thing indeed? After all, life would be very dull if we were all the same.

Over 80% of young people with dyslexia leave school undiagnosed, progressing to the next life stages without the support they need and deserve during their time in the education system.

Why is Studyum so concerned about people with learning difficulties? Because today’s education systems are failing an appalling number of students — with and without learning difficulties — simply because we all learn best in ways that suit us as individuals rather than as a bovine herd.

So if teachers and educational systems are untrained and inadequately resourced to cater to different learning styles, what happens?

Sadly, while the law technically provides for the identification and support of dyslexic students, the reality is very different. Over 80% of young people with dyslexia leave school undiagnosed, progressing to the next life stages without the support they need and deserve during their time in the education system. Notwithstanding that, the type of dyslexia that an individual has can vary, making this territory all the more complex.

A similar percentage of pupils are permanently excluded while also being identified as having ‘special educational needs.’ Therefore, the system recognizes the problem but does not possess the infrastructure, resources, or motivation to address it.

In some circles, it’s argued that today’s education systems are woefully misguided in their approach to this range of neurodiversity. In fact, in a recent interview, Richard Branson (a relatively high profile dyslexic) stated that dyslexia is ‘a superpower that needs to be embraced and supported in schools.’

However, unless the condition is noticed by observant parents or through cognitive and educational assessment, dyslexia can go entirely unnoticed. A child who genuinely loves to learn suddenly falls behind. Instead of being supported, they are often berated — marked down and pigeonholed as poor achievers, when in reality, they’re just different and subsequently learn differently.

An opportunity to evolve the way people learn

The dyslexic person uses what some researchers refer to as a ‘spinning mind’s-eye,’ also described as visual-spatial thinking. This alternate way of viewing or imagining is unique to someone with dyslexia. It’s also an unequivocal bonus since a dyslexic person sees things in this way approximately 100 times faster and more accurately than a non-dyslexic person’s use of the linear-sequential method. Not to get lost in the science; the point is that this is the ‘superpower’ to which Branson refers, and if someone were to reimagine an education system to leverage this, then significant change would likely quickly occur.

Studyum’s user interface is highly visual, putting user-experience (UX) at the heart of its design. Its use of 360-degree video to create multi-dimensional content capturing educators is literally a ‘spinning mind’s-eye,’ where students can experience a lesson in an entirely new way. Studyum’s micro-lessons are also highly intuitive, whereby leveraging AI, smart-chat, and facial recognition technologies, the learning management system actively monitors students’ engagement in real-time. So if our student displays confusion, fatigue, or frustration during a Studyum lesson, the system can switch to deliver alternative content that better suits the student’s learning style.

Thus, Studyum celebrates and welcomes their difference, ensuring students can learn their way and at a pace and style that suits their needs. This proposition is the bigger picture that Igor has in mind. To enable students at all levels, from all walks of life, to harness their superpowers, whenever and wherever they want. With all the flexibility that the next generation of education technology can offer.

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