Toward an Emerging Consensus About
Robert J. SternbergJust what does it mean to say that John--or Jean or Jaime or anyone
else--is "learning disabled"? The answer to this question proves to be
maddeningly complex. Not only are there disagreements as to what learning disabled
means, there are disagreements as to whether the concept is even meaningful.Despite the disagreements, there is a surprising degree of emerging
consensus among experts in the field regarding a number of key issues.
My goal in this epilogue is to argue that the field is progressing toward
some major points of consensus even if it has not fully converged toward
a unified view of learning disabilities as biological, psychological, and
societal phenomena. At the same time, I will mention some of the main
points of disagreement.
Points of General Agreement
Here are what I view as 15 key points of broad consensus.
|1. ||Learning disabilities represent a diversity of distinct phenomena, not a single one. Although learning disability might sound like a unitary phenomenon, the consensus of expert theoreticians, researchers, and practitioners
is that it is not. We do children and adults alike a disservice simply by
lumping them into a category of learning disabled (LD). Experts disagree
as to the exact number of learning disabilities and even as to their exact
identities. It seems clear, for example, that mathematical disability is separate from reading disability and that reading disability can manifest itself in different forms regardless of whether it is unitary in a biological|