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Is anyone “unteachable”?

posted in: Secondary literacy

Yet again, I heard about a young adult who came to his first That Reading Thing session, not with a “label” as the education system would call it, but with a huge engraved boulder strapped to his shoulders. This one said “unteachable”.

Can you imagine being in your mid-20s and honestly believing that you would never learn to read? Thankfully an alert person knew about a local TRT project and thought maybe he could get some help. It turned out that this young man was anything but unteachable. It’s entirely possible that he wasn’t the best behaved kid in his high school – but how can educators still be confusing behaviour with ability?

It took him 2 hours to get through the Foundations Levels where he found himself spelling words like ‘establishment’ and ‘recognition’ without any help. Unteachable? Then he went onto the Advanced Levels where he learned that there are lots of ways to spell some sounds and lots of ways to pronounce some symbols. He did a bit of writing.

By this point, the boulder had crumbled to nothing. Unteachable? That’s not a label; it’s a cripplingly heavy boulder and one that should never be strapped onto a young person just because they don’t behave well at school.

That Reading Thing:  where “unteachables” are always welcome.

(first posted on LinkedIn)

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