Overcoming Learning Failure

schoolboy-with-learning-difficultiesOur research has consistently shown that if children do not learn to understand language, to read and write, to calculate and reason mathematically, to solve problems, and to communicate their ideas and perspectives, their opportunities for a fulfilling and rewarding life are seriously compromised. — Dr. G. Reid Lyon

Learning disabilities, learning difficulties, learning problems, reading disabilities, dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia and maths learning difficulties are all terms used to describe learning failure in one or more areas. The effects of such learning failure during the years of schooling, as well as in adult life, can seriously handicap both daily living and vocational prospects.

According to the Learning Disability Institute

  • 75% of unemployed adults have reading or writing difficulties;
  • 43% of adults with low literacy skills live in poverty, as compared with less than 5% of those with high level skills;
  • 35% of students with learning disabilities drop out of school – nearly twice the rate of students without learning disabilities;
  • Previously undetected learning disabilities have been found in 50% of juvenile delinquents;
  • Workers who lack a high school diploma earn less than 25% of those with Bachelor’s degrees.

Treat the cause to solve a problem  

It should be noted that most problems can only be solved if one knows their causes. A disease such as pellagra, also called the disease of the four D’s — dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia and death — took the lives of thousands in the Southern states of America during the early part of the twentieth century. Today, pellagra is virtually unknown because we know that it is caused by a vitamin B3 deficiency. A viable point of departure in this case would thus be to ask the question, “What causes learning failure?”

In the literature on learning disabilities, it is generally assumed that learning disabilities are caused by a neurological dysfunction. This theory has so far, however, been unable to produce any tangible practical results.

Another popular theory is that learning disabilities are genetically transmitted. Dr. Beve Hornsby, for example, found that 88% of dyslexics had a near relative who had similar problems with reading and spelling. This tendency for learning disabilities to “run in families” has been confirmed by numerous studies.

The tendency for learning disabilities to “run in families” does not necessarily prove, however, that a learning disability is genetically determined. The ability to speak English also runs in families, yet nobody would attribute this to genetics. We all know that a child learns to speak the language that he hears on a daily basis.

An alternative theory

To understand what causes learning failure it is important to take note of the fact that there is nothing that any human being knows, or can do, that he has not learned. If you dump a little puppy into water, it will swim. Do the same with a human child, and it will drown. The child must learn to swim.

There is yet another, equally important fact, which is also a sine qua non towards the understanding of learning disabilities, and which has also so far been overlooked, viz. that learning is a stratified process. This implies that certain skills have to be mastered first, before it becomes possible to master subsequent skills. For example, one has to learn to count first, before it becomes possible to learn to add and subtract. In the same way, there are skills that a child — or adult — must have mastered first, before he or she will be successful in reading, spelling, writing, mathematics, and learning. Unless these underlying shortcomings are addressed first, the child will continue to battle.

Edublox offers cognitive training, aimed at the development of the skills that form the foundation of reading, spelling, writing, mathematics and learning as such. Foundational skills include:

  • Concentration.
  • Perception — visual, auditory and haptic.
  • The ability to discriminate, synthesise and analyse in terms of foreground-background, form, size, position in space/time and colour.
  • Memory — short and long-term, visual and auditory.
  • The ability to decode, integrate and classify information.

By addressing these foundational skills learning failure can be overcome.

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