A hopeful, helpful primer from a teacher with hands-on success in dealing with dyslexia.

Wiping Out Dyslexia with Enhanced Lateralization

MUSINGS FROM MY FORTY YEARS OF WIPING

Debut author van den Honert shares her experiences using neurological research to teach dyslexic junior high school students how to read.

In 1973, when the first of her five children started college, the author returned to work as a substitute teacher in her local junior high in Pittsfield, Mass. After the administration found that she could handle rambunctious students, they assigned her a full-time position teaching reading to “six dyslexic boys who were climbing the walls.” She realized that she had “backed into dyslexia, clueless,” so she combed through neurological research papers. She developed teaching methods based on studies that dyslexics have “poky” corpus callosums in their brains that cause delays and other problems in “interhemispheric transfer of visual and auditory signals.” To “rewire” her students, she gave them headphones, playing a spelling exercise in one ear and classical music in the other. She also had each student hold a card over one eye while reading a column of words. Such “enhanced lateralization” techniques trained one side of the brain to do all the processing work, bypassing the hemisphere “switching” problems. Her students experienced a significant jump in their reading levels in just one year. Although the school administration was initially skeptical about her results, van den Honert went on to teach successfully at the school for 11 years, later tackling dyslexic students’ math and writing challenges. She then served as a private tutor and as a longtime member of the Pittsfield School Committee, and she’s currently the ongoing overseer of the website Dyslexia.org. Although her account here is sometimes repetitive and digressive, she ultimately serves up an effective quick-start guide for parents, students and teachers of dyslexic students. She conveys difficult concepts in a way that anyone can understand, and readers will find her championing of those with dyslexia to be truly inspirational. Indeed, readers may wish for more details about her interactions with her students, because her role in their lives hints at a transformational saga along the lines of the 1988 movie Stand and Deliver.  

A hopeful, helpful primer from a teacher with hands-on success in dealing with dyslexia.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-1468528121

Page Count: 108

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2014

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INSIDE AMERICAN EDUCATION

THE DECLINE, THE DECEPTION, THE DOGMAS

American schools at every level, from kindergarten to postgraduate programs, have substituted ideological indoctrination for education, charges conservative think-tanker Sowell (Senior Fellow/Hoover Institution; Preferential Polices, 1990, etc.) in this aggressive attack on the contemporary educational establishment. Sowell's quarrel with "values clarification" programs (like sex education, death-sensitizing, and antiwar "brainwashing") isn't that he disagrees with their positions but, rather, that they divert time and resources from the kind of training in intellectual analysis that makes students capable of reasoning for themselves. Contending that the values clarification programs inspired by his archvillain, psychotherapist Carl Rogers, actually inculcate values confusion, Sowell argues that the universal demand for relevance and sensitivity to the whole student has led public schools to abdicate their responsibility to such educational ideals as experience and maturity. On the subject of higher education, Sowell moves to more familiar ground, ascribing the declining quality of classroom instruction to the insatiable appetite of tangentially related research budgets and bloated athletic programs (to which an entire chapter, largely irrelevant to the book's broader argument, is devoted). The evidence offered for these propositions isn't likely to change many minds, since it's so inveterately anecdotal (for example, a call for more stringent curriculum requirements is bolstered by the news that Brooke Shields graduated from Princeton without taking any courses in economics, math, biology, chemistry, history, sociology, or government) and injudiciously applied (Sowell's dismissal of student evaluations as responsible data in judging a professor's classroom performance immediately follows his use of comments from student evaluations to document the general inadequacy of college teaching). All in all, the details of Sowell's indictment—that not only can't Johnny think, but "Johnny doesn't know what thinking is"—are more entertaining than persuasive or new.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 1993

ISBN: 0-02-930330-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

COLUMBINE

Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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