Mpowered was established in 2014, in response to the ongoing need for something different for dyslexic children in our school system.
Helen Wildbore is a New Zealand trained teacher who is dyslexic herself.
As Helen helped her dyslexic son navigate the school system, taught in the school system and ran an independent education business she saw students failing and feeling like failures, and realised the life long impact this would have on these students. Helen felt it was the system failing these students, rather than the students themselves failing, so started using different teaching methods and strategies to help them learn.
The results she got with students who learnt using these methods, were changing students lives as well as their marks and their self esteem and confidence. Parents and students alike repeatedly asked for a programme dedicated to learning this way, and from that Mpowered was born.
The Mpowered programme is delivered within the current school system whenever possible, during school time, from a mobile classroom. It is uniquely developed and taught from a dyslexic perspective for dyslexic students, as opposed to the current educational methods which are from a non-dyslexic perspective for dyslexic students.
Helen Wildbore (a trained teacher) is dyslexic and has developed a new approach for empowering students to embrace their uniqueness and understand it, so they can use it in the classroom.
She shares this ‘way of thinking’ with her son Sam (dyslexia is believed to be hereditary) and conservatively about 10 per cent of the current school population. It is as high as 1 in 5 in the UK and USA.
Helen Wildbore says her greatest weakness, dyslexia, has become her greatest strength, and wants to show anyone who is dyslexic how they can do the same.
Why I started the programme.
I developed this programme over the last few years (drawing on a lifetime of experiences) It was born out of my educational journey that saw me struggle through a school system that did not suit me at all, and left me feeling dumb and like I had very limited options available to me. Then I learnt how I learnt, and very successfully went on (20 years later,) to gain my degree in teaching.
This programme was started by using the same strategies and thinking that I has used, to help students who came to see me and who were not making progress using the conventional methods. Until this point it was not based on research at all, rather on personal experience. I just continually modified teaching pedagogy until I found what worked for an individual student, using the dyslexic way I thought.
Dyslexic people are big picture thinkers, so over time I developed a series of analogies and teaching practices to describe what being dyslexic was like, as well as explaining hard to understand concepts, and how we can work much better within the school system if we understand this. This made a huge difference to students who have gone on to excel at school, often with no further issues, and nobody even knowing that they process what is going on around them differently from anyone else.
When current “phonics based’ interventions are sought, while results are seen in the short term, (students can memorise each word as they are taught it one-on-one), this is hard work for the student and over time this too will be lost. They are being asked to learn in a way that their brain wiring does not support.
What researchers now know
As new research became available it backed up exactly what we were doing, and continues to do so. New research or papers coming from the UK, and USA, would explain and support what we had been telling parents for a few years, particularly about how our brains are wired. It is actually now possible to visually see these differences with the advances of MRI and DTI imaging techniques
“Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) allows scientists to see the white matter fibre tracts that form the major connections among different parts of the brain. Essentially this allows researchers to see a road map of the brain.
There does not appear to be any one pattern for dyslexia, but researchers have found evidence of marked structural differences in dyslexic brains. The image displayed shows a comparison between the brain pathways of a dyslexic man (depicted in blue), and another adult with a very typical brain structure (shown as gold). While the dyslexic subject has less extensive connectivity in the left hemisphere, overall the brain pathways are more evenly distributed and are far more robust in the right hemisphere.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2586924/
Current research continues to support what this programme already believes about dyslexic students; that they are wired differently, they think, process, store and retrieve their information differently and in different parts of the brain.
Non dyslexic thinking / teaching, struggles to understand how to help and teach these students to really reach their potential, despite a sincere desire to do so, as they use a different sort of wiring than dyslexic students. I know most of these students are bright, and often very articulate, but struggle to preform well in an education system that uses non dyslexic measures of intelligence and testing as the standardised norms.
With this programme these students learn very quickly how to adapt to, and translate non-dyslexic teaching, allowing them to access the curriculum without the need for continual interventions, or the need to be stigmatised as being different. It also allows them to use both the creative and logical sides of their brains at the same time to come up with “new” ways of thinking and “new thoughts” . It is this ability that sees dyslexic people achieve in entrepreneurial endeavours and develop new industries, just like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Richard Branson to name a few.