Private School Teachers Learn to Detect Dyslexic Students

Jordan Times
August 3, 1994

Private School Teachers Learn to Detect Dyslexic Students

By Rana Husseini: Special to the Jordan Times


Thirty seven private school teachers began a seven-day workshop entitled “success for all” that aims at helping teachers to detect dyslexia among school children.

Dyslexia is difficulty in reading, writing, and mathematics, caused by a condition of the brain.

“We felt that students [with unrecognized dyslexia] are sometimes being blamed for failing in their classes or not concentrating in class or disrupting it,” said Abia Zuraikat, the general secretary of the Private School Council, which organised the workshop.

She told the Jordan times that many students suffer from dyslexia but they are not detected by teachers, and the council felt that there is a need to invite specialists to educate teachers on the symptoms and how to detect them in their students since Jordan lacks experts in this field.

She added that students with dyslexia will be sent to specialized centres in Jordan for further help adding that this is the first workshop of its kind in the Kingdom.

“This workshop is designed to gather teachers from several schools to sit together and exchange experiences and observations regarding their students,” Ms. Zuraikat explained.

She said the workshop also intends to encourage creative teachers and listen to their problems and suggestions.

“The workshop will strive to improve teachers’ awareness at private schools to enable them to cope with the latest educational methods,” Ms. Zuraikat said.

Teachers from 15 private schools are being instructed by Gertrude M. Webb, president of the Webb International Centre for Dyslexia, in Waltham, Massachusetts in the U.S.

The schools include Al Ahilyeh School for Girls (CMS); New English School, Amman National School; the Amman Baccalaureate School; Al Mashrek International School; Al Bayan School; Al Manhal; De La Salee College; National Orthodox School; Abdul Hamid Sharaf School; Al Ma’aref College; Prince Hamzeh School; Al Maw’el, Modern Educational Schools as well as schools runs by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

Dyslexic children cannot learn to decode letters and sometimes numbers and as a result the words cannot make sense to them and “we try to help them find another way to find the words and sounds,” said Dr. Webb.

She said dyslexia affects no particular age group and “the way to detect it in a child is when his/her language does not come in properly, or the child does not pay attention during class period or tries to avoid reading when asked to do so.”

According to Dr. Webb, there is no cure for dyslexia but specialists use “multisensory methods that appeal to the sound-image-touch and the muscles all together to stabilise the letters.” “It takes time and learning and patience from both students and teachers,” she added.

“What I am trying to do is make all of us see that each student who suffers a defect has strengths, although he/she has problems,” Dr. Webb said.

“We want to find these strengths and help the children see how they can feel worthwhile and function effectively in school or at home,” she added.

Dr. Webb, who has been running her centre for more than 53 years, said that by using the necessary strategies, children with such disabilities can learn that, “instead of hating school, they will find it a place where they can grow and learn and contribute to the society.”

“People like Thomas Edison, [Albert] Einstein and Winston Churchill, all had trouble learning to read in school, but their creative minds made an impact on our lives,” Dr. Wenn commented.

Fatmeh Toghoj, a teacher at the Prince Hamzeh School said she had already learned new methods and information that should help her detect dyslexic students.

“We have learned the golden rule [in the first day of the workshop] which is to find the strength in the characteristics of the students and find the positive sides to help them,” Ms. Toghoj said.