Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Graham Stringer - Wow !


It's not often that an MP nails his colours to the mast quite like this.

For a Labour MP to come out and deny the existence of dyslexia, labelling it as an invention of the education establishment to cover up bad teaching, is quite extraordinary. Not least of all because the establishment to which he apportions the blame is itself the product of a socialist ethos through which poor levels of achievement are often dressed up as something else.

I'm not going to pretend to be an expert in his area - I've not studied it and I haven't got experience of it in my immediate family. Stringer claims the "condition" has been wiped out in West Dunbartonshire, where they've been using a system of synthetic phonics to teach reading. He also claims the dyslexia doesn't exist in nations as diverse as Nicaragua and South Korea, suggesting that it is an "environmental" rather than a medical phenomenon. He may well be right for I know.

What I do know is that educationalists go to quite amazing lengths to protect the feelings of pupils and to ensure that no one is seen as "thick". Spelling and grammatical mistakes are routinely ignored completely, and only last week another Labour MP was lamenting the idea that teachers might be banned from marking work in red pen, lest some pupils find it dispiriting. Education in Britain today absolutely reeks of an acceptance of mediocrity as the norm, and there being no such thing as failure.

In this context, the idea that reading difficulties could be treated as something far more complex than they really are does at least fit in. It would make sense for poor teaching and low attainment to be dressed up as a medical condition. I have long wondered whether dyslexia is "real", and it's fascinating than an MP should say so clearly that it isn't. Even more so given his political persuasion.

I can't help feeling that if a Conservative MP had said what Stringer has said, he'd be taken apart, both by the education establishment and the liberal intelligentsia in the media. But as a Labour MP, he might just be ignored; his comments swept under the carpet as being the misguided mutterings of a maverick.

Either way, I'll be following this story with great interest.

3 comments:

TBRRob said...

Interesting. Especially from a Labour MP

Shades said...

I have a feeling that Theodore Dalrymple may have said something similar a couple of years back.

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