Sister St. John Delany | PACE UNIVERSITY
The Journal News: "5 Questions with Sr. Delany on literacy, the brain"
5 Questions with Sr. Delany on literacy, the brain
From The Journal News by Elizabeth Ganga: The Center for Literacy Enrichment at the Pace University School of Education in White Plains recently held a symposium titled "Unlocking the Puzzle of the Brain and Reading" to try to answer questions for educators and others on what is going on in a child's brain when they learn and how kids with learning disabilities such as ADHD learn differently.
Sister St. John Delany, the director of the center, answers questions on her motivation for bringing brain science into the discipline of teaching reading.
Q: How important is it for educators to understand the brain research going on?
A: Truthfully, I think it's tremendously important. Especially for teachers who are teaching very young children. Everybody can't learn the same way. I just think people need to understand what is going on in the brain, how it functions, where the different parts of the words come from, if you will, the sounds. If children are not using their brains properly then how do we help them?
Q: Can you summarize what you've learned and what the research shows at this point about the brains of children with learning disabilities?
A: Number one, the research shows that people who have problems with reading do not use their brain properly. They're using the wrong parts of their brain to produce words and to produce ideas. One can make that determination by doing neuroimaging. I would like all of us to become familiar with an approach to really helping these struggling readers.
Q: If you know the wrong part of the brain is being used, the how do you help them?
A: The literature says by repetition, repetition, repetition. But not always the same kind of repetition. You're going to ask them to read this book today and that book tomorrow. Which is actually what we do. We don't ever have them do the same thing over and over and over again.
Q: What else do you need to understand?
A: Number one, everybody has to understand every child is different. So you have a group of fifth graders, every one of those children is different. And parents bring to their children what they have. And if they haven't been well educated or if they're not aware of the fact that you should speak to children, that you should help them improve their vocabulary, it's to the child's detriment, to be truthful. I think that parents want to help and I think they don't really know how to help.
Q: Tell me about the center.
A: We began 42 years ago as a developmental reading program and my students were the tutors. Children came mostly from White Plains, and then, little by little, particularly in the summer, we would get children with more severe problems. We have only certified teachers here now. Over the years we have gotten children from Cortlandt, Mahopac up north, Rye, Port Chester, Eastchester, Yonkers, New Rochelle. And they come with different kinds of needs. But we do reading and writing and math and some science and we work with children from the age of 5, because I firmly believe that's where it all should begin.
View the original article here.