While there has been a rise in awareness regarding learning difficulties in our country, has the perception of dyslexia changed at all? In a country obsessed with rote learning and educational qualifications, it is not easy for children dealing with dyslexia and their parents to cope with the problem at hand. We live in a society which measures capabilities of children using the metric system of marks, percentage and grades. So a child is only intelligent when he or she is performing well academically. Where does this system leave children with dyslexia?
- Our education system measures intelligence through proficiency in rote learning.
- The inhospitable education system makes parents see mere learning difficulties as disabilities in their children.
- A difficulty in learning skills like reading and writing using traditional methods doesn’t mean that they are incapable of learning these skills.
- To change this perception, first, we need to change our perception of intelligence and education.
In our society, a child is intelligent when he or she is performing well academically.
Barrister Suchitra Vijayan recently pointed out the fault lines in our education system, when it comes to helping out children with dyslexia, in a series of tweets. Vijayan, who was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of ten, reveals that there was no awareness about what it meant to engage with a child who was different, back then. However, despite a rise in awareness among parents via films and social media, one needs to ask, has our attitude towards learning difficulties changed, at all?
A teacher once told my mother I won’t graduate middle school. And there was no general awareness about what it meant to engage with a child who was different.
— Suchitra Vijayan (@suchitrav) March 4, 2019
Most parents still think there is something wrong with their child, if he or she has dyslexia. They feel ashamed of their children’s learning problems, internalising the “blame” for it. Their child is “unfit” for the rat-race that is the education system of this country. How will he or she have a normal life, when passing elementary exams is also a struggle? Many parents are still advised to send their kids to special schools, as some kids find conventional and commonplace rote learning techniques applied in most schools difficult. It fills such kids with an inferiority complex and a feeling of being social misfits.
Dyslexia isn’t a disability, it is a difficulty.
It isn’t their fault though, it is ours. A difficulty in learning skills like reading and writing using traditional methods doesn’t mean that they are incapable of learning these skills. It just means teachers and parents need to use unconventional teaching techniques with them. Also, dyslexia doesn’t affect the intelligence of the child, as is the common perception. Thus, there is no reason why such a child can’t go to a mainstream school. Though one on one tutoring and lessons from specialist teachers may help them a lot.
To change the social perception about learning difficulties, first, we need to change our perception of education and intelligence. They cannot be limited to being good at rote learning or scoring top marks. Sadly, we as Indian parents have reduced it to just that. We forget that every child is different, and so is their mind and their capabilities. Why are we so obsessed with rote learning skills among children? If dyslexic children face issues adjusting in school, develop low self-esteem and confidence, then it is our fault for creating a hostile environment around them. The impediment in their education isn’t their learning difficulty but our refusal to change our system for them.
Picture Credit : Eparent
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.