Over recent years many students have been diagnosed with Scotopic Sensitivty or Irlen Syndrome as it now seems to be called. This seems to be a perceptual disorder where readers have problems with tracking their reading. The white paper we've used in education for the last century and more, books, newspapers, magazines etc cause no end of distress to many people. It's a kind of dyslexia, evidently. This has meant that an empire has risen within education to help sufferers - evidently 12-15% of the population.
By empire, I mean that there are many 'specialists' in Special Needs Departments that test students and then devote a lot of time getting coloured overlays and special lenses in glasses. It would appear that The Promethean Trust based in Norwich are the main source of such lenses and overlays. The glasses cost around £90 which seems to me an awful lot of money. Many of the sufferers are in the poorer sections of society,so nearly a ton for some glasses with plastic lenses in is presumably out of many people's reach.
There is, however, an alternative. For reading a plastic filter is useful but when it comes to writing, that's obviously more difficult. Bring on the coloured paper! We now have what seems like hundreds of different coloured paper booklets being sent around to the different departments for these kids to use. These are sheets of coloured paper put through the photocopier to print lines onto. It's a bit like having a Dulux paint chart. We've got Royal Blue, Cardinal Yellow or is that red? The problem now, though is that some of us poor old teachers who have to mark these booklets - and exams - can't actually read them very well. I mean, dark red certainly isn't an easy colour to read scruffy writing on. Every few days some new booklets come through into our pigeon holes (trays) and this week was no exception. One of our pupils has been diagnosed as needing white paper.
That's right. White paper. Er, actually, isn't it white paper that causes the problem? Aren't all the normal exercise books we have actually white paper? Hmmm . . . something not quite right here.
There is, however, an alternative to all this. Firstly, as a teacher I think it would be far better if students all had lenses in their glasses so that they can read on their prescription colour - and interactive whiteboards wouldn't need changing, either. I mean, if three students are all in the same class and all need different coloured screens and non-Irlen students (the other 27 kids in the class) prefer white anyway, wouldn't lenses be the best solution? Also they would then write into normal exercise books which would make our jobs easier for marking. It all seems so obvious. However, it's the cost that seems to be the sticking point.
I wouldn't charge £90 each for them, I'd do them altruistically.
Ah well, I'm off to Hitchin Folk Club to see John Tams. I know it's a two hundred mile round trip but if Spielberg's War Horse is as big a success as his normal films, I don't think Tam will need to work again too much. He only needs a couple of songs in it and he'll earn a fortune, and I know that Spielberg is going to use some of them from the National Theatre production that Tam wrote the songs for.
* The only reason that so much money and hype has been put into 3D is because they can't can't pirate 3D films. Yet. Read Mark Kermode's The Good, The Bad & The Multiplex. Well worth a read and very funny.