Success despite dyslexia

July 14, 1995

A recent article (THES, June 30) regarding an almost identified, particular student with mild dyslexia has caused me to worry. The article seemed badly argued and misinformed: it may have been unethical.

That is not to say that dyslexia is not a proper subject for discussion: our recent work at Portsmouth had demonstrated not only the extent of the problem but also what can be done.

My interest in dyslexia began at university in the early 1950s when I found myself with students with "spelling difficulties". One designed a "string and sealing wax" computer to play noughts and crosses - and we played in three dimensions: he went on to be a researcher and lecturer. One became a professor of mathematics in a prestigious American university - and his father, who was also dyslexic, was a world expert, Radio 3 broadcaster, no less, on Russian literature. And I mean dyslexic.

There is clearly no reason why those who are dyslexic should not, all other things being equal, achieve academic distinction - and they do.

The problem for Mr Fairbairn appears to be a confusion between the criteria for qualifying as a primary school-teacher and those for passing an academic paper in the theory of education: one involves practical and the other academic skills and, in failing to make the distinction, there is a demonstration of dyslogica. It is not only those with dyslexia who may fail the practical.

PROFESSOR A. J. POINTON Development Secretary Law Memorial Fund for Disabled Students University of Portsmouth

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