Monday, 2 June 2008

Class and learning skills labels

I just wanted to record and ponder on one of the observations made by Harriet and Frances in today's very productive meeting - namely, the role of social background in students' interpretations of being identified as dyslexic. It has been noted that students from a middle-class background may welcome this term, and emphasise the positive aspects (being creative, being "a bit different") and incorporate it within their overall student identity, other students may resist it, and see it as a definition of disability or impairment. If there was a simple solution to overcoming this resistance to the term, I suspect someone else would have found it by now; and I'd welcome thoughts prompted by literature such as that referenced below. The extent of my pondering on the subject is that it could be worth highlighting this range of reactions in any phrasing that we use around dyslexia - "Some people find that being diagnosed with dyslexia is very dispiriting, and seems to label them as inadequate. Others find it a helpful explanation for difficulties they've experienced throughout their life, and a positive influence on their identity as a learner", or somesuch. Riding my particular hobby-horse, it might be that some of the student input into the design of the resource could be gathering testimony on this issue of being identified as having specific learning needs - how has it affected their studies? The rest of their student life? What has the impact been on their sense of personal identity? etc. etc. This might be opening up the concept of student input somewhat more broadly than we've previously discussed, so it's only a suggestion; but potentially, it could provide a helpful means to facilitate student engagement with the resource.

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