Blue Moose Literacy was thrilled to be able to attend the International Dyslexia Association’s Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon last week. With phenomenal speakers presenting on such diverse topics such as oral language development, neurodiversity, morphology, reading comprehension, and social justice, we have much food for thought to munch on. Several major themes emerge that we will be exploring in upcoming posts.
One motif of the week is perhaps best illustrated by the city of Portland itself, a city that is proud of its unique flare and hodgepodge of old and new, quirky and chic, weird and beautiful. All one needs to do to gain a taste of the culture of Portland is to stroll through the aisles of one of Portland’s most iconic spots, Powell’s City of Books, which claims the title as the world’s largest bookstore. The shelves tell the story. On these, you’ll find gleaming dust jackets of new releases resting comfortably beside wizened and warped used copies, a perfect agglomeration of old and new. Much like these shelves, the field of structured language and literacy and dyslexia education is an interesting mix of time-honored and cutting-edge.
Our knowledge base descends from a century of researchers and educators laying a foundation for understanding the nature of language-based differences. What a rich heritage we have from our forefathers and mothers, such as Samuel Orton and Anna Gillingham, whose humble beginnings paved the way for researchers, psychologists, and educators for years to come! Though our origins are in the past, our understanding is constantly growing and expanding as science simultaneously confirms what we’ve long suspected and refines what we could only then imagine. We know so much more today than we did 50, 20, 10, even just a few years ago because we continue to let science lead us and inform our instruction. Indeed, while much of the world of education seems trapped in archaic models and flawed theories, those on the forefront of structured literacy remain undaunted in their commitment to science informing practice.
Though we have come far, the war continues to rage on. This is a war over the future of our children, the future of our culture, and thus, the future of the world. It’s fought not with weapons, but with words—about words and the fundamental reality of our language and learning. How we define and understand these matters ultimately reflects how we understand our nature as human beings and determines in what direction we grow. Now, more than ever, literacy is essential to not only success but self-discovery, both of which predicate a healthy mix of time-tested wisdom and radical new insights.
Thus, as the IDA conference comes to a close, may our mission and vision never cease to continue onward in our goal to bridge our past and future through achieving literacy for all.
Until all can read…