Education in China - Math

After three short years in China, (preceded by  42 years in other parts of the world), I came away with the impression that, while Chinese parents may be pushing their kids too hard, and while there seems to be much rote repetition in the system, their...

Exceptional People - Bright or Dumb

After ten years of understanding just a little more about the many young people with whom I have worked, I can sum up my observations in just a few words:  exceptional people can be identified by  lateral dominance anomalies. President Obama is...

Free will?

I sometimes wonder whether all these new findings are eventually going to negate the concept of free will.  Using fMRI testing, scientists have revealed that dyslexics have neurological differences, that people with severe Math difficulties also have...

Your Brain, or Mine?

While Arrowsmith Schools have always understood the neuro-physiological causes of "learning dysfunctions",  I have some  reservation about "fixing" the problems. We know from programs like FastForWord  that we now have the capability of...

Lurning to Reed Inglish

My first language was Estonian, a language scribed in  24 letters - totally phonetic; the "a" always sounds like "a", unless you put two dots over it.  In 1949, at age five, my father sat me down and taught me to read. He would plane lumber to build...

Why TOTALLY ENGLISH works for Chinese Kids

First, to be convinced that Totally English actually works, please see  ESL Results from China posted on 2010/01/01. Totally English is an approach, not a workbook.  It takes its ideas from educational research from Harvard and builds those...

Dyslexia label is a Red Herring

It is still commonly believed that dyslexics are people who have specific areas of academic difficulty but who are otherwise normally intelligent.  This definition assumes that there are other people out there who have learning difficulties but are...

ESL Results in China using TOTALLY ENGLISH

Here is a graph of comprehension results based on three groups of 7-9 year old students in Beijing, China.  Our setting was a small private after-school program with 10-12 students per group. These results include those who attended only twice...

Gender, Emotion and Sex

Just to extend the thoughts on gender and emotion... Girls and boys do need to be educated simultaneously with much attention being paid to developing an awareness of differences in interpreting life experience.  Conflict resolution methods have...

Gender, Emotion, and Schooling

It is no longer just a topic for comedy routines.  fMRI studies have proven that females activate emotion centres in the brain while reading.  Only a few males do, and not nearly to the same degree.  Other studies show conclusively that females are...

On becoming a number...

I suppose those ambidextrous sports stars like Gretzky and Jordan don't mind being identified by the number on their jerseys.  My association with a number is not nearly as rewarding.  I have become 65.  And it's taken me nine months to realize the...

Ambidexterity - tie that binds Tiger/Rodman/Trump?

Watched Larry King interview Trump and Rodman re Tiger's woes last night. Now this is just a guess.  But not necessarily a wild one.  I'd bet a few pennies on all three of them being ambidextrous.  I know from his own comments that Tiger is.  I'm...

Shanghai and more ESL development

So life is not over... Just signed for a new posting in Shanghai!  Sounds like lots of scope for continuing to develop a program that is China-specific and honestly child-centered.  Am so sick of the verbiage of "experts".   The only real ESL research...

Teaching Reading for ESL in China

By now,  ESL curricula in most schools reflect an understanding of Nonie Lesaux's landmark 2003 Harvard research;  English is best taught to young children by teaching Reading, Phonics, and Writing in the same way we teach it to native speakers. Not...

Beijing enigma - David

David came into our after-school program from an American kindergarten program.  He was a happy, lively boy with a smile that won  you over immediately.  His oral English communication skills were passable.  Mother stood proudly while David read...

Reflections on teaching in China...Tom

Yesterday I combed through my thousand or so photos of China to find a particular classroom picture.  I decided my collection needed organizing.  Xian, Shaanxi Museum, Yinchuan, Inner Mongolia,  Nanjing,  Hong Kong, Macau, Shanghai.  The sights,...

Strange Skills in Normal People

"Oh, you're Ann, so you're red!"  quipped the wife of a senior diplomat during an informal chat with colleagues in my Helsinki Special Needs Office. We had been discussing a ten-year-old boy who reported that he saw numbers in colour.  Not all...

The concept of Narrow Columns revisited

I notice that on the World of Dyslexia Newsletter there is now a note that reads: "This Newsletter is best viewed on a full screen, but the size may be reduced for easier reading of short lines of text." Understanding is evolving...

More about the Chinese Brain

Researcher Wai Ting Siok of the University of Hong Kong, writing about the complications of dyslexia in Chinese children, observes that   "Written Chinese maps graphic forms -- characters -- onto meanings; Chinese characters possess a number of...

Narrow Columns for Dyslexic Readers

Wrote this back in 2005, but similar issues have surface with other young people... Narrow Columns for Dyslexic Readers: Working now with a group of disaffected, hostile teenage boys, all of whom can decode print for short periods of time,...

The Chinese Brain...?

Thinking about human variability and brain studies and such, I wonder if scientists are going to find that the Chinese brain actually makes more use of visual memory centres, wherever those may be... Their eyes tend to be weak, but their visual memory...

Brain Surgery and Teaching

What does brain surgery have to do with teaching? Unfortunately, almost nothing. Dr. David Clarke of Dalhousie U performed the first simulated brain surgery in preparation for the real thing. In order to create his model, Dr. Clarke used...

Teaching in China

Well, now that I'm back home in Canada and bored out of my mind, I have time to reflect on my three years in China. There's a troubling pattern that emerges.  Even when working for the most well-intentioned people, there seems to be someone in...

Waiting for One Child?

Am about to teach my Chinese Middle School girls (lovely voices) "When  a Child is Born".  A couple of thoughts on this, though.  Why are we waiting for someone to come and show us how?  Are we forever destined to be followers?  Isn't this somehow...

Teaching as art

A friend e-mailed me from a bar last night, lamenting my absence from the "artsy" scene she was experiencing.  My response to her was that I am totally immersed in art - the art of teaching.  At this age I think I really do treat it as that, delighting...