THE CoolerRuler:
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August 2010's Articles

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Another anti-dyslexic teacher starts her career

I was so upset yesterday that I had to leave my sister’s birthday party early.

Now, I love my sister and I enjoy parties - so it had to be something big to make me leave early. But in fact, it was something small - a tiny teacher, about five feet tall and newly qualified, conveyed her distaste for children with dyslexia (and those who choose to train as special needs teachers) and refused to consider altering her teaching methods to accommodate those who might find it difficult to copy from the board.

The conversation began when I asked how she had been doing since I last saw her about six years ago. She has been doing well - good GCSE’s, A levels, a teaching degree and she’s about to start work. Well done her - she has a job in a private school teaching French and Spanish. This is not to her liking; she wants to work in the state sector and is pretty disgusted that the only job she could get is in the private sector.

The girl was delighted to find that I was a teacher and asked, enthusiastically, what I taught. The expression of disinterest and disdain that crossed her face seconds later when I mentioned special needs was incredible and the ensuing conversation showed why.

Having taught in a private school myself (my lack of a general teaching qualification precluded my teaching special needs in a state school for a reasonable salary!) I was able to reassure her that it would be no sinecure. She would certainly find those children that she so wants to teach, whose parents have no interest in their education - paying for it doesn’t necessarily mean that parents will actually support the educative process - as well as those who are bright but struggling through an unidentified learning disability. But she was adamant that private schools are full of children who are too dim to be able to cut it in a state school which is why their parents have had to resort to buying education for them. This from an ex-private school girl.

Don’t get me wrong, I was not on a mission to sell private education to this youngster. I also have experience of teaching in a state school; my headmistress for three years employed me as a special needs support assistant whilst I was undertaking my dyslexia training and soon realised that she had an asset in me. She couldn’t pay me any more than the £3.50 an hour I was getting, but she was able to use her staff training budget to help me continue my education and in the meantime, she gave me a classroom where I took groups of - mostly dyslexic - children who had poor literacy skills for 30 minute sessions. It was fantastic training for me (my learning curve was virtually vertical), it gave the kids access to specialised teaching that they wouldn’t otherwise have had and the class teachers loved the ability to teach with the disruptive element removed from the classroom!

However, the point I was trying to make to my new colleague is that children in private schools have the same right to good, enthusiastic teachers and will probably present as much of a challenge as those in most state schools. Her point was that, since she will be studying for her master’s degree, it was probably a good job that she was only working in a private school, because it will be so easy peasy!

Having failed to convince her of any merit to be gained from her forthcoming employment, I asked her how much training she had had in dealing with specific learning difficulties. I wasn’t surprised when she told me that “there had been a couple of seminars” but I was astounded when she added that “it didn’t matter anyway, because we were not training to be special needs teachers.” When I tried to get her to see how important the class teacher is in the life of a dyslexic pupil, she stated that, in her opinion “there is far too much dyslexia diagnosed these days”.

By now I was nearly in despair - but I ploughed on, tackling the issue of near vs. far-point copying. If nothing else, would she consider making sure that in her classroom, pupils didn’t have to copy from the board? “Oh, of course I’d give handouts to those who had been diagnosed, but the rest could copy from the board. We’ve been told that we have to keep the photocopying budget down.”

So I left the party. I am still pretty depressed today. I find it so hard to believe that in this day and age, when so much is known about the facts of life in school from the point of view of a dyslexic, teachers can finish their training with absolutely no understanding of how at least 10% of their pupils approach the learning experience. And what a miserable experience it’s going to be.

Reading problems disappear with The CoolerRuler

Back to school is upon us again. How quickly the heady days of July holidays morph into the dog days of August, particularly noticeable this year with the wet and windy weather. There’s a nostalgia involved too, for our own lost childhood holidays, remembering the fear of the unknown in the start of a new school year.

For many children it will involve starting at a new school too, with the added excitement and pressure that such a move entails. If reading is a difficulty that is being dragged along from the old school to the new, the excitement is less and the pressure is decidedly more.

I’m looking forward to the new school year. It’s a pleasure to be able to offer The CoolerRuler to a whole new band of schools and to help another generation of children with reading problems discover how this simple tool can get them reading - and fast!

I have done a fair bit in the North West and lots in the South East, but this is the year to broach the in-between lands of the Midlands. Many schools in the area have already bought into the instant advantages of The CoolerRuler, having been introduced to it at The Education Show at the NEC, but there are still plenty who have yet to discover its benefits.

For such a small cost it reaps great rewards; a simple tool that facilitates virtually instant improvements - literally, ‘easy reading at your fingertips’. The really cool CoolerRuler.

Jamie Oliver

I am so hacked off. Jamie Oliver is very open about his dyslexia - and why not? We have so many talented dyslexics in our schools who are too often led to believe that dyslexia is a disability. In my view it should be seen as a considerable annoyance at primary level, less troublesome at secondary level (as long as you have been able to grind your way through the early years and have achieved a reasonable standard of literacy) and a positive boon throughout the rest of your life. The ability to think laterally and fast will make you an asset to any brainstorming session and Jamie is a great example of the talent and determination to be found in the character of many dyslexics.

So I sent him a CoolerRuler. I wanted him to see it and I wanted to hear what he had to say about it - I even thought that he might possibly have dyslexic children himself, who could benefit from it. It has been my experience that adult dyslexics have been quick to see the merits of The CoolerRuler - most have raved about it and have commented that it would have made a big difference to their education. I sent it via a very helpful member of Jamie’s production company and addressed it directly to Jamie. I eagerly awaited his reply.

Of course I know that he’s a very busy man - TV trailers constantly show him in all parts of the world and it seems that another restaurant in his chain opens every week - so I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t hear anything for several weeks. I rang the helpful production company person, who echoed my thoughts, and I continued to wait.

This week I received a brush off from his ‘people’. They said that he wouldn’t have time to look at it and couldn’t possibly comment on it, as he had done that for other products in the past and his comments had been used as an official endorsement. And that, of course, is something you can only get if you buy it from him. When I asked whether he had even set eyes on The CoolerRuler, I was told that he hadn’t.

As Jamie Oliver seems so genuinely interested in the education of our children, (I understand that he is interested in opening one of the new free schools) I believe that he would have been impressed by the simplicity and unobtrusive design of The CoolerRuler.

But thanks to his ‘minders’, we will never know.