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When Batman kayos The Riddler, then delivers a speech on the ultimate futility of crime, children are likely to remember the violence but forget the message.

In a study involving 120 children in kindergarten and the second and fourth grades, Marsha B. Liss, a researcher at California State College in San Bernardino, tried to assess the effects of "Saturday-morning programs with aggression and a moral message."

Ms. Liss showed the children two different episodes of a Saturday-morning cartoon called "Superfriends," one containing violence along with a moral message and one that had only the message. She found that violence detracted from the moral point of the story.

Kindergarten children who saw the nonviolent episode were able to give a more accurate description of plot and message than the fourth graders who had watched a violent episode, she said.

Dyslexia, a language disorder most often found in boys, affects thousands of American children, impeding their progress in school. And in some cases, it blights their chances for success in adult life.

A new study, however, suggests that with appropriate and intensive educational intervention, dyslexic boys may have better prospects for academic and occupational success than had previously been believed.

Conducted by a group of researchers from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the study is based on a follow-up of several hundred boys who attended a special school for dyslexic boys, the Gow School in South Wales, N.Y.

The researchers traced the progress of 579 students who graduated from the school between 1940 and 1977. They found that although the students had been diagnosed as "severely disabled"--but of normal intelligence--many subsequently graduated from college and entered careers that require a good deal of reading.

Of those studied, 58 percent completed college with a bachelor's degree; 10 percent earned post-graduate degrees. Nearly half went on to careers in management or administration, and 15 percent became engineers or craftsmen.

More than half of those surveyed now enjoy reading for pleasure, and only 12 percent "still consider reading a chore," according to a summary of the study issued by the Gow School.

The researchers found that the "nature and scope" of the school's remedial program had a strong effect on future success.

The most significant factor in predicting success was found to be a special "reconstructive language course," which students take for 45 minutes a day, six days a week. "We do a tremendous amount of phonics and vocabulary," said David Gow, headmaster of the school. Teachers in the course also devote a great deal of time to spelling, reading aloud, and language drills.

Many of the students, who enter the school in the 7th grade, have been taught to read by a "look-see" method that is ineffective for children who have perceptual disabilities. The reconstructive language program is designed to break students of their old reading habits and to instill new ones, Mr. Gow said.

To the best of his knowledge, Mr. Gow said, the course has not been adopted by any other schools.

Vol. 01, Issue 30

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