'Out of “chaos”: the historical origins and ideological construct of Dyslexia and arising ethical implications'

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    Michael Rice (2004: 13) stressed the chaotic nature of the study of dyslexia and how the difficulties involved are not purely academic but also political and emotionally charged. I am dyslexic and therefore the existence of dyslexia is accepted in this paper without equivocation. However, the nature of its existence will be questioned, as the paper proposes an alternative and post‐modern definition of dyslexia based on an understanding of western ideological constructs. This paper examines the Greco‐Roman historical origins of Western attitudes toward literacy and how these attitudes have distorted definitions of dyslexia. Rather than viewing it as a purely psychological phenomenon, I suggest that dyslexia is a vital conceptual tool with which to question the cultural misconceptions about literacy. Have we in effect focussed on finding the ‘causes’ of dyslexia, and therefore a ‘cure’? Should we be challenging the problems and prejudices that originate in western attitudes towards illiteracy? The cultural preconceptions surrounding literacy and the ideological primacy of the written word have meant that teaching and educational traditions on the whole have remained unchallenged. The emphasis remains to ‘cure’ or adapt rather than accept.The paper will also seek to clarify the ethical issues that arise from this discussion. There has been a failure fully and frankly to address the ethical ramifications: we need to recognise that they have caused the political and emotive situation Rice has outlined. If these issues can be recognised and addressed perhaps we can begin to find a way out of the chaos.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)55-76
    JournalNEXUS Journal of Learning & Teaching Research
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2008


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