The 4D Edge - Neil MacKay and The New Teaching Paradigm
International consultant Neil MacKay is at the forefront of thinking on dyslexia and education. One of the world’s leading educators in this area, he takes an advanced view of what characterises dyslexia, and what can be done about it. Best of all, his advice on this is practical, realistic and simple to implement.
While many educators and academics are still caught up in debate on defining dyslexia – something Neil calls ‘paralysis by analysis’ – Neil is highly focused on action that makes a difference in the here and now, based on the huge body of research and experiential evidence that already exists on dyslexia.
Disability, difficulty, difference or learning preference – there are many views of what dyslexia is. But while others may struggle with making a transition from regarding it as, at worst, a disability to, at best, a learning difference, Neil has made the quantum leap to characterising it as a learning preference. This is because dyslexics commonly utilise more visual parts of the brain than neurotypical word-based thinkers, so prefer to receive process and present information in certain ways. When they are empowered to work in preferential ways, many so called difficulties or disabilities cease to become barriers to achievement.
This breakthrough has major implications for how we can better teach dyslexic students in the classroom. Yet, it is also incredibly simple – if dyslexic students think differently we need to teach to that.
Research shows that dyslexic individuals tend to think in pictures not words, receiving and retrieving information in a different part of the brain to neurotypical, word based thinkers. This means they naturally prefer to receive, process and present information in a way that makes more sense to them. Teaching harder does not work. Making students try harder does not work. The solution is multi-sensory, breaking out of a word-bound paradigm.
There is a bigger picture at stake here too. Firstly, experience shows if you get the environment right for dyslexic students then others will also benefit. Secondly, in an increasingly ICT-led world, the future is multi-sensory – and all of us need to get to grips with that. Conservative estimates are that one in ten New Zealanders has dyslexia, including 70,000 schoolchildren, so there is huge potential to be harnessed.
This unique webspace shares the expertise of Neil MacKay, and other world-leading dyslexia thinkers, with advice and proven strategies to achieve better results in the classroom. It is based on 4D thinking, which extends the common perception of three dimensions to overlay a fourth dimension of creativity. And it complements the Dyslexia Foundation’s revolutionary 4D | 4 Dyslexia programme for New Zealand schools, for which Neil is a consultant. More than 500 Kiwi schools are already benefiting from this programme which offers advice to improve classroom life for both teachers and students.
Fundamentally, the 4D Edge and the new teaching paradigm is based on the highly effective classroom strategy of ‘notice and adjust’ – notice those children who are getting stuck and make reasonable adjustments in the way they are taught and assessed, including personalised learning and alternative evidence of achievement. This pragmatic approach can easily be implemented without the need to wait for an official assessment or ‘diagnosis’.
Architect of Britain’s pioneering Dyslexia Friendly Schools initiative, author of the acclaimed book Removing Dyslexia as a Barrier to Achievement and with more than 26 years practical teaching experience, as well as university lectureships and global consultancy roles, Neil is uniquely qualified to present this new teaching paradigm. For more information about Neil click here.