Sunday, November 11, 2007

"What's Wrong with Me?" The Emotional Cost of Reading Disabilities

The 'code', the technology of written language, is the most influential invention in the history of history. It is the "OS" (operating system) of civilization. Becoming code users literally changed how our minds think, self-reflect, remember, abstract, categorize, and codify. Today's social institutions; our science, law, politics, organizations and technologies are all outgrowths of what the code made and makes possible in our minds. We are all, in a very real sense, children of the code. For some of us the code is an invisible, taken-for-granted, mind-enabling platform, for others it is an ever-present mind-shaming barrier that all but determines what is possible in life. -

Children of the Code, an online social education project and public television documentary series, addresses the complexities of fluently making sense of "the code" the basis of understanding the written word. The comprehensive website includes videos, over 100 interviews with leading experts in the field, articles, and resources for parents, students, educators and other professionals. The video section of the site included this video which explores the emotional toil on students who struggle to make sense of text. School constantly and repeatedly reinforces what is difficult for some children. The cost to their "sense of self" is enormous and requires us as educators to offset the damage.
"I always tell people that from the moment a kid gets up in the morning until he goes to sleep at night, the central mission of the day is to avoid humiliation at all costs." - Dr. Mel Levine
By increasing our own awareness of the struggles, we can lessen the damaging impact on our students and, instead, build upon their strengths. Try these simulation activities to better understand the challenges they face. And then use new tools and strategies to help make your curriculum accessible and help your students more easily demonstrate what they know. (The proliferation of read/write web tools allows us to do that in ways never before possible! If you need ideas, check out this post - Free Technology Toolkit for UDL in Every Classroom)
Children who blame themselves for the struggle of learning to read are in serious psychological and intellectual danger. They are at risk of becoming ashamed of how they think, how they learn, and who they are. (
You will spend hours at the website, but it is time well spent. Thank you to Lynn, at the Interactive Multimedia Technology blog, for pointing out this invaluable resource.


Lisa Parisi said...

As always, Karen, your insights and finds are invaluable to those of us dealing with children with disabilities (and isn't that all of us?). I sent your blogsite and the PBS link on to the rest of my staff.

Karen Janowski said...

Thank you for stopping by! I hope that your colleagues found the resources beneficial and will share any new ideas they have.

samuel said...

Karen, I really appreciate your advocacy towards demystification. What you talk about in this post is so important.

Tracy Rosen said...

Very cool post Karen. Thanks for the resources. I teach a high school class of 12 non-readers and 1 voracious reader - all of whom have a damaged sense of self. It tears my heart out.
I'll be referring to the links you provided often I think.

K. Greenhaw, said...

Hi Karen. Glad to come across your blog. I was quite impressed by the tools on the misunderstanding learning website. I must confess that the reading recall exercise through me for a loop because I didn't realize it would start making the lines of text disappear so I didn't have a chance to read them. I have also had a hard time concentrating on lines of text when I'm reading which I think made my recall in high school on these types of tests very difficult. It is good for teachers to go through these exercises so they can better organize their teacher plans and tools for their students. Thanks for bringing these topics and resources to our attention!