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Reading is not spinach, even with squid

spinachI’m doing the closing keynote at Dyslexia Scotland’s Education Conference conference today. Dyslexia Scotland is a wonderful organisation, working so hard to improve the lives of dyslexic children at school and dyslexic adults in the workplace.

I only have one problem with doing speeches like this. The organisers always ask months in advance for an exciting title, so I try to give them one. And then, when I come to preparing the content, I see the title and think, “WHY DID I SAY THAT? WHAT DID I MEAN?”

The title for my talk is…

Reading is not spinach – a brain-boosting diet for those who don’t like greens.

Oh god.

Anyway, in the context of spinach, I’m going to talk about reading and the brain, what reading does and what not reading does. And they may be surprised to hear aspects of the answer.

All I’m prepared to say for now is this: reading is not spinach.

As always, I provide handouts so the audience can follow up any of the aspects that they found interesting. The first three on this list are my resource sheets on adolescence and also the reading brain, not focusing on dyslexia, and they go far wider than anything I will refer to in my talk:

  1. Resources for teachers/professionals on the teenage brain
  2. Resources for adults on teenage sleep
  3. Resources on reading and the brain
  4. If you’re interested in the London taxi-driver study, go here.
  5. A fascinating book on the subject of the reading brain, and especially in connection with dyslexia, is Proust & the Squid – Story & Science of the Reading Brain, by Maryanne Wolf.
    • Squid with a delicate spinach sauce. Mmmmmm.
  6. The two articles from Scientific American Mind which I referred to (but which I can’t link to as you need a subscription – which I recommend you get!) are The Power of Reflection by Stephen M Fleming (about metacognition) and The Advantages of Dyslexia by Matthew H Schneps.
  7. I recommend a neat little guide for dyslexic students (and very useful indeed for non-dyslexic teachers), which I bought from Blackwells in Edinburgh, a wonderful bookshop for all sorts of books but with a specially brilliant focus on back-to-school and student books. The book is Studying with Dyslexia by Janet Godwin.

I’m going to a workshop on memory in the morning, too. I’ll let you know what I learn. If I remember.

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2 Responses

  1. I attended the Dyslexia Scotland Conference today and thoroughly enjoyed your presentation, Nicola.
    As a teacher, and parent of a teenager, I look forward to reading some of your material. Many thanks.

    1. Thanks, Angela! I thought it was very well organised and I really enjoyed doing it. I also enjoyed meeting so many committed teachers and other professionals and parents, too.

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