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NEUROSCIENCE & LEARNING DIFFICULTIES/DISABILITIES

SOME FAMOUS PEOPLE DIAGNOSED WITH LEARNING DIFFICULTIES *

Agatha Christie Albert EinstenDaniel RadcliffeDr Carol Greider
Jamie OliverJennifer Anistonjsml-john-lennon-150x150.jpgJohn LennonKiera Knightly
Prince HarryRichard BransonSteve JobsStevie Wonder

* Wikipedia - List of people diagnosed with dyslexia


INTRODUCTION

The following sections provide some background information and example of a survey/quiz-based experiment that is simple enough to be completed by primary school students.

The project requires no understanding of 'neuroscience' but some background information is provided here for teachers/students who wish to find out more (see below).

The 'neuromyth' problem:

Table 1. List of 15 Neuromyths with correctness of responses for each myth assertion

The OECD’s Brain and Learning project (2002) emphasized that many misconceptions about the brain exist among education professionals. 1)

A survey containing 32 statements about the brain and its influence on learning included 15 'neuromyths'. Though these so-called 'neuromyths' are loosely based on scientific facts, they may have adverse effects on educational practice.

Results showed that on average, teachers believed 49% of the 'neuromyths', particularly myths related to commercialized educational programs.

Staying Current - Does it help?:

Of all teachers, 93% were interested in scientific knowledge about the brain and its influence on learning. Further, 90% of the teachers thought that this knowledge was very valuable for their teaching practice.

Teachers who read popular science magazines achieved higher scores on general knowledge questions, but more general knowledge also predicted an increased belief in “neuromyths”.

These findings suggest that even teachers who are enthusiastic about the possible application of neuroscience findings in the classroom find it difficult to distinguish pseudoscience from scientific facts.

Possessing greater general knowledge about the brain does not appear to protect teachers from believing in neuromyths.

This demonstrates the need for enhanced interdisciplinary communication to reduce such misunderstandings in the future and establish a successful collaboration between neuroscience and education. Sources: Learning Difficulties Australia (LDA) and Psychol., 18 October 2012


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RECENT LEARNING DISABILITY RESEARCH FINDINGS - DYSLEXIA

Dyslexia is a recognised learning disability that inhibits the learning process in spelling, reading and/or writing:

QUIZ: Please complete the on-line NEUROSCIENCE QUIZ before you read the content on this page.

This quiz should be completed on commencement of the course and may be completed one or more times for pre and post-test use. Getting the 'correct' answers is unimportant - It is only a diagnostic tool to test for understanding.

The social and emotional difficulties of dyslexia: “are part or a manifestation of the same disorder as is responsible for academic failure.” (Bruck, 1986 p. 362 2)

A 2010 Roper Poll showed that four out five Americans associate dyslexia with mental retardation. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke defines dyslexia as “a brain-based type of learning disability.” 3)

A strong correlation between dyslexia and entrepreneurship has long been a subject of scientific inquiry. In 2004, 20 percent of UK entrepreneurs polled said they were dyslexic, while managers “reflected the UK national dyslexia incidence level of 4 percent.” In the U.S., however, the results were even more persuasive: the same researchers behind the U.K. study found that more than 35 percent of American entrepreneurs surveyed identified themselves as dyslexic. Other studies have shown that more than 40% of surveyed self-made millionaires identified themselves as dyslexic.

“The study also concluded that dyslexics were more likely than non-dyslexics to delegate authority and to excel in oral communication and problem solving and were twice as likely to own two or more businesses,” according to The New York Times, which first reported the earlier (2007) research.

Though graduates are proven more likely to be hired than someone without higher education, many on the world's most successful companies are run or were started by education dropouts.

A study 4) of the top 100 US corporations found that only just over half of those CEOs attained a recognised education qualification at tertiary level:

  • Fourteen (percent) of the CEOs had law degrees.
  • Sixteen (percent) held a Batchelor (BA) or similar graduate level qualification.
  • Thirty three (percent) of CEOs held an MBA, which was the most common graduate degree among the executives.
  • More than thirty (percent) of the CEOs did not attain any kind of formal tertiary education qualification. This proportion is in fact understated as a significant number of these 'dropout' CEOs appear in other categories above as a result of having been awarded 'honorary' degrees following their later commercial success.

In a study of the world's most highly successful entrepreneurs, it turns out a disproportionate number have dyslexia. In the US, 35 percent of the entrepreneurs studied had dyslexia.

Take this resume. This guy's parents give him up for adoption. He never finishes college. He job-hops quite a bit, goes on a sojourn to India for a year, and to top it off, he has dyslexia. Would you hire this guy? His name is Steve Jobs. 5)

Entrepreneurs are not the only ones who have been diagnosed as having learning disabilities at school:

School work did not go well for young Albert. His poor facility with arithmetic, his lack of special ability in any other academic subject, and his great difficulty with foreign language led his teacher to predict that “nothing good” would come of the boy (Sullivan 1972). Nevertheless, Einstein worked carefully and diligently and persevered in doing his arithmetic homework, even though he often came up with the wrong answers. 6)

A Simple Survey Experiment:

Design your own neuroscience quiz/survey ( see example quiz/survey ) to investigate and collect data for your own (or your students') neuroscience experiments.

'Neuromyths' in Education: A simple survey can help identify misconceptions about learning difficulties and to help design strategies that help overcome teacher misconceptions and improve learning outcomes for students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia.

Here are two example hypotheses that you could test using you own on-line survey/research data:

  • HYPOTHESIS 1. It is estimated that around 4% (UK) to 10%(US) 7) of the population are dyslexic. There is a normal distribution of IQ / intelligence across dyslexics. For those reasons, the number of dyslexic CEOs is not greater than would be expected by chance.
  • HYPOTHESIS 2. Dyslexic are over-represented amongst successful CEOs (35% - 40% in USA) because many are outstanding real-life problem solvers who thrive in complex scenarios and are particularly good at dynamic reasoning (recognizing patterns and trends), and then being able to make predictions about the future. 8)

QUIZ: Please complete the on-line NEUROSCIENCE QUIZ now.

This quiz should be completed on commencement of the course and may be completed one or more times for pre and post-test use. Getting the 'correct' answers is unimportant - It is only a diagnostic tool to test for understanding. 9)

References

 
 
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