August 17, 1998
(Time Magazine) Lindamood-Bell featured in Time Magazine
Regarding a TIME Magazine article which made reference to Lindamood-Bell
Time, August 13, 1998
Many children and adults suffer from problems in reading, spelling, and language comprehension. The numbers of individuals unable to read words or comprehend language are alarmingly high all across America. The crisis has become of such national concern that both Newsweek and TIME magazines recently addressed learning issues as cover stories.
The TIME article on reading included interviews with parents to get their opinions regarding the debate of whole language versus phonics-two approaches to teaching reading. During the interview with one parent, Alexis Muskie, the daughter-in-law of the late Senator Edmund Muskie, Alexis made a reference to a reading clinic that taught her daughter to read in a very short period of time. The reading clinic referred to is Lindamood-Bell® Learning Processes, an internationally recognized learning center in our community.
Alexis Muskie's story is much like that of other parents. By the time her daughter, Olivia, was in third grade, her performance in reading was years below her grade level, and she had been labeled "learning disabled." Though Olivia's parents sought much help for her, none came, and finally it was suggested that Olivia be tested for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and possibly put on medication. Instead of pursuing that option, her parents had diagnostic testing with Lindamood-Bell and found that Olivia had weakness in phonemic awareness, the ability to perceive sounds in words. They placed her in an intensive educational intervention program with Lindamood-Bell for a few weeks, which developed her phonemic awareness and she gained years in reading skills. She is now earning A's and B's in her fifth grade class.
Many children and adults suffer deficits in two primary sensory-cognitive functions which interfere with their ability to process language. One is phonemic awareness weakness, such as Olivia Muskie had. This weakness causes individuals to add or omit sounds in words and not know they are doing it-such as reading "steam" for stream, or "imagination" for immigration. The second problem is concept imagery weakness, and though more serious, it is often more difficult to diagnose.
Concept imagery is the ability to process the gestalt (whole) of language that is read or heard. Imagery is the sensory system's way of connecting to language. The brain sees the language it reads or hears. But, for some individuals, the brain doesn't image the whole or concepts of the language. This weakness puts individuals in the often tragic situation of grasping parts of what they hear, or parts of what they read. With only "parts" understood, they have trouble with reading comprehension. They have trouble following conversation and getting the main idea, or making an inference, or drawing a conclusion. However, they often can read words well, and do not have trouble with phonemic awareness. Consequently, they appear to not be paying attention, or they appear less "bright." They can have logical thinking problems or expressive language problems.
While both problems are disturbing, the good news is that the brain can be taught to perceive sounds and image concepts. Just as Olivia's brain learned to think with sounds and letters, and therefore her reading and spelling improved, the brain can learn to image language concepts and reading comprehension and higher order thinking skills can be developed.
Many of the children in our schools or communities with these two types of sensory-cognitive weaknesses are left trying to learn without all the cognitive tools they need. They frequently suffer from low self-esteem, and may even believe themselves to be less capable than others in their family or class. Their "cognitive tool kits" are not complete because their sensory systems are not completely developed in these two important areas of brain function. Hence, no matter what system is used to teach them to read-whole language or phonics-they may not develop to their full potential.
The answer to solving the learning issues in America lies not in choosing between whole language or phonics. The answer lies in diagnosing and solving the underlying sensory cognitive functions necessary to learn to read, spell, or comprehend. It appears we have to look farther down the ladder, back to the brain and the sensory system-if we are going to teach individuals to learn to their potential.