Magazine article Perspectives on Language and Literacy

Adding Math Disabilities into the Dialogue on Language and Literacy

Magazine article Perspectives on Language and Literacy

Adding Math Disabilities into the Dialogue on Language and Literacy

Article excerpt

"A quadratic equation belonged to the world of Alice in Wonderland and the Differential Calculus was a dragon"

- Winston Churchill on mathematics

"Winston Churchill's description of mathematics echoes the feelings of many people with a mathematics disability. For them, the world of numbers, equations, and mathematic problems is populated by evil creatures, designed to make their life miserable" (Siegel, 2016). As successful as he was in other endeavors, Winston Churchill suffered so much because of his problems with mathematics. Not only did they make him feel stupid, but also they prevented him from being accepted into programs and schools that he wished to attend. In my post humorous diagnosis, Winston Churchill had a mathematics disability but, not as popularly believed, dyslexia.

Although we hear much more about dyslexia, it is not the only learning disability. To clarify, dyslexia is a reading disability and a mathematics disability is a problem with mathematical calculation and/or mathematical problem solving. A person can have dyslexia and a mathematics disability, or only one, or neither.

We have decided to devote an issue of Perspectives on Language and Literacy to mathematics disabilities for a variety of reasons. Mathematics disability, sometimes called dyscalculia, is quite common but often goes unrecognized. The incidence of a mathematics disability is similar to dyslexia.

The academic and emotional consequences of having a mathematics disability are very similar to dyslexia and mirror those of dyslexia. The experiences of Winston Churchill are very similar to those of people with dyslexia. "According to his report card, his composition was very 'feeble' and his spelling was 'hopeless.' His teachers also noted that he did not know the meaning of hard work. In other words, he was 'lazy.' Teachers and parents who do not understand learning disabilities think children who make many errors or fail to learn something are lazy. …

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