The Most Common Brain Hack: Reading
Think about this for second. How do you know how to read? It’s not really something most of us think about regularly. At some point in our lives we were taught how to make distinctly different sounds. When we were a little older, we were taught to make an associations between certain sounds and certain letters. Then we were taught to string those letters together to form words, and as our vocabulary grew, we also learned to use those words in a particular order to form sentences. We could go on and on to explain how the rest of your speech, reading and writing formed, but you get the idea. You were not born knowing how to read. It was actually a very long process of learning and many years of practice that has lead you to now.
You have trained your brain to accomplish something that is quite unnatural. Writing does not occur in nature. Written language is man made. In fact, the first instance of “modern” writing emerged around 3000 BCE in the region now known as Iraq. Compared to the earliest discoveries of mankind, written language is still a very new construct. Over millennia, we have been quite literally rewiring our brains to read and write. In a sense, reading and writing could be considered one of the most commonly developed brain hacks. We are training our brains to do something it was never naturally intended to do. The brain is so extraordinarily adaptable that reading and writing eventually feel natural, but it truly is anything but. Kind of weird when you think about it, huh?
As modern science shows, not all brains are built the same. We have found variations in brain structure from person to person. In the case of dyslexics, scientists are discovering areas of the brain that operate differently in processing language. Dyslexia is not a deficiency of the brain, it is not an indicator of intelligence, it’s not a disease; simply there are physical, structural differences in the brain.
So when we are teaching a classroom of students to read and write, we know that roughly 20% of those students are physically wired to process that information differently than the rest of the class. This is where those students are needing a different approach to learning. Recent research has shown that with as little as 8 weeks of specialized tutoring, our brains can begin to rewire itself to read more effectively. (1) Typical classrooms, even with accommodations, may not be enough for these students. To help these students make lasting connections, their instruction needs to be multi sensory, individualized, hands on, etc. At our school, our curriculum is based around the Orton-Gillingham approach, which is considered as the gold standard of teaching for students with language based learning difficulties. It’s a part of everything we do. We take an unconventional approach with every activity to help our students process information in a way that is better matched for the way their brains are structured. To run with our headline, we have to hack the hack. We are finding “work-arounds” to better educate our students. Dyslexics and those with related language based learning difficulties need educators who not only understand the differences, but can adapt their teaching style to accommodate them. If you know of anyone who suspects their child might have a learning difference (ages 5-7), we offer free early childhood screenings here at Fortune Academy. Academic success is possible!
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