Dyslexia and Loss of the Learning Dialogue

Alexander-Passe, Neil and Zimmer, Bob (2009). Dyslexia and Loss of the Learning Dialogue. In: ed. Educational Psychology: Cognition and Learning, Individual Differences and Motivation. Hauppauge, New York, USA: Nova Science Publishers, pp. 223–242.

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The Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (CISS) (Endler & Parker, 1999) identifies three main behaviors in response to stress – trying hard to perform, blaming oneself or others for one’s failure, and avoiding exposure altogether.

It has been shown that, amongst pupils with dyslexia, these three behaviors are associated with different genders (Alexander-Passe, 2004a, 2006, in press) and different levels of self-esteem and depression (Alexander-Passe, 2004a, 2006) – in particular:
• Trying hard to perform – mainly males, gaining academic self-esteem from teacher approval
• Avoiding exposure – mainly females, shielding overall self-esteem
• Blaming – mainly females, losing personal self-esteem and showing depression.

As it happens, these three behaviors are opposites to the three that make up the simplest possible, basic learning dialogue (Zimmer, 2001; Zimmer & Chapman, 2004; Zimmer, 2008):
• Listening receptively rather than blaming, so as to invite thinking
• Showing comprehension rather than just trying hard, so as to invite listening in return, and
• Sharing one’s own thinking rather than avoiding exposure, so as to invite comprehension.

Evidence from the dyslexia literature shows that the three CISS behaviors are common amongst pupils with dyslexia, indicating that dyslexic pupils are often disengaged from the basic learning dialogue.

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