Monday 16 June 2008

The Reading Brain

Finished June 15
Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain by Maryanne Wolf
This was an absolutely fascinating read and I learned so much about both the history of reading and what goes on in our brains as we gain this function.
As Wolf says, our brains were not designed for reading, but have adapted to achieve this skill. Reading uses several parts of the brain and depends on the functionality of each of those parts as well as the connections between them to succeed. Learning to read has some differences depending on the language of the reader, and that can affect the speed at which the skill is developed as well as what parts of the brain are more heavily used.
Wolf also addresses the issue of dyslexia, and talks about the different forms that this disability takes. There are different ways this can be addressed depending on what type of dyslexia the student has. She also addresses the problems of catching this early to both address it properly and to ensure the child does not feel stigmatized. Many people with dyslexia are very creative and innovative and we don't want them to feel inferior to their peers.
Wolf includes a discussion relating back to Socrates and his stand against reading as a lesser form of learning that could lead to a false sense of understanding a subject or idea. She discusses how this change from learning by dialogue to learning by reading can be related to today's change to learning through digital tools and how similar concerns may be applicable to our young learners now.
This book should be a must-read for teachers that will give them an insight to the issues that can exist around reading. I highly recommend it.

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