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Gordon Dutton’s Blog (16) Learning disability caused by others

To listen to Gordon Dutton reading this blog please click the red circle with a white arrow below.

Gordon's Learning Disability

During my teens I was lucky to be able to stay with a wonderful family in Paris to improve my schoolboy French.

The problem for me was difficulty understanding everybody, and I wondered whether my hearing or learning were impaired.

I felt stupid!

That was when 'Maman' stepped in.

She saw instantly that I was perplexed and not joining in.

She understood the reasons and took me in hand.

  • She spoke at a pace that matched my ability to process and translate her language.
  • She articulated all her sounds so that I could easily hear and emulate them.
  • She quickly mastered what I knew and what I did not.
  • She started with vocabulary that was known to me.
  • We chatted as I helped her work around the house.
  • She succinctly and clearly added salient new words to match what I was experiencing.

Everything was accessible.

Things clicked.

They made sense.

I was learning.

My language brain was being programmed

At first I'd been "Learning Disabled"... those around me, because they didn't have the knowledge or insight to recognise my limitations and work within them.

But luckily I was taken in hand by someone who could...

  • eliminate my embarrassment and discomfort
  • make me feel at home, and happy
  • identify each of my limitations and work within them all and...
  • contextualise my experiences with salient new words embedded within language I already knew

Her teaching was enjoyable, accessible and learnable from.

A week later I could tune in and understand everybody!

I'd been "Learning Enabled".

This makes me wonder whether we should think about replacing the term 'Learning Disabled' (with its negative connotations), with the term 'Learning Enabled' (as I was), because this takes away the sense of responsibility from the child and gives it to the grown ups.


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