Singular Minds
February 1, 2005 • Volume I, Issue 6
Prolinguistica Dyslexia Correction Center
Laura Zink de Diaz

Quote(s) of the day:

I always remember this quote when I read about our students' supposedly miserable standardized test scores...
Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts."
(Albert Einstein)


Public Talk: Creativity and Learning

Thank you to all who attended the talk on Jan 27. You were a very kind and attentive audience. Feedback was very positive, so I trust that you left feeling that it had been a good use of your time on a week night!

Each participant received about a cubic inch of clay and created something original out of it. I enjoyed watching you create and talking with you about what you made with your little lump - and you certainly all looked like you were having fun! I take it as a good sign that you all apparently took your clay with you! Enjoy!

I haven't settled on a date for the next talk yet, although I'm fairly sure it will take place in late March or early April. Keep watching this newsletter and the local papers for an announcement.

Support Group Meeting

The Support Group will meet February 17 at 7:00 pm in Room 206 at our offices in Mount Vernon. If you haven't been to the office yet, there are directions and a map on the web site at:

Or, give me a call at 360-848-9792 for verbal directions.

There is no fee for the meeting and you don't have to be a former or current client or client parent to attend. The purpose of the meeting is to exchange information, provide mutual support, and have a relaxing time.
Please remember that this is an informal support group, a place to find people who are dealing with issues that may be similar to yours, whose experiences you may or may not find helpful. As always, if you feel you need counseling, I encourage you to consult a qualified counselor.

Clay Clinic

Our next clay night will be February 10,  also in Room 206 at our offices in Mount Vernon. We'll begin at 5:30 pm with PIZZA! and conversation.  Clay night can help if you've gotten off track and need to jump start your commitment to completing your symbol mastery. Or perhaps there are some words on the trigger list you've been putting off. Maybe you'd just like to work on clay in a different environment and see who else is doing symbol mastery... After the really important part - eating - we'll work on words from 6:00 to 7:00 pm. Please call (360-848-9792) or email ( ) to let us know you plan to attend -- so we can be sure we have enough pizza on hand! Cost: $15/client.

Good Stuff to Read

(Please note that some URLs are too long for some mail programs to pick up in their entirety. If you click on a link and it doesn't work, check to see if your mail program included the entire URL in the link. If part of the URL isn't underlined, copy the whole link and paste it into the address line in your browser -- that should do the trick!)

Emotional Intelligence
By Daniel Goleman, Psychologist
This essay is one of many winning contributions to The Edge in answer to a question they put to philosophers and thinkers each year. This year's question was, "what do you believe even though you cannot prove it?" and begins:

"I believe, but cannot prove, that today's children are unintended victims of economic and technological progress.

"To be sure, greater wealth and advanced technology offers all of us better lives in many ways. Yet these unstoppable forces seem to have had some disastrous results in how they have been transforming childhood. Even as children's IQs are on a steady march upward over the last century, the last three decades have seen a major drop in children's most basic social and emotional skills—the very abilities that would make them effective workers and leaders, parents and spouses, and members of the community."

You can read the rest of this essay and look at many other interesting submissions at:

Getting our Money's Worth in Public Education

Robert Freeman
I spent 20 years in the computer industry before becoming a public-school teacher five years ago. I had risen to become vice president at one of the world's largest software companies. I know business. And I know something about education as well. Education is harder. ...we lie to ourselves that "privatization" will offer some kind of quick fix that will solve all of our problems. Privatization means corporate control of our schools. Corporations are wonderful things, but they only work for a profit. To make a profit from education you need to do two things: increase efficiency and reduce costs. Increasing efficiency means removing variability while boosting output. This is a great formula for mass producing hamburgers or semiconductors. It is a disaster for producing intelligence and character in children. ... How many parents are willing to turn their children over to companies whose principal goal is to make a profit off them? How many want them taught by the cheapest teachers, crammed into the largest classrooms, reciting only the most rote repetition? Yet, if it is to make a profit, that is the only plausible vision that mass privatized education has to offer us: McStudents.
To read the rest of this great essay, go to:
(I've found that this address is too long for some mail programs. I've also found that copying and pasting this one into the browser gets you an error message at If you get an error message, a search containing "Robert Freeman Mcstudents" will bring up the article. It's worth the effort!)

It's 10 a. m.: Can Your Pre-Schooler Recognize, Use, and Represent Algebraically Patterns, Relations, and Functions?
In case you thought your 4-year old was still safe from the ravages of our current mania for testing, here's a bit of news that won't affect you just yet unless you live in New York, but don't hold your breath - it's coming soon to a state near you. New York has established Learning Standards in Mathematics for... wait for it.... Pre-Schoolers! I find myself in agreement with Susan Ohanian, who posted the standards at her website: that the people who think up these lists of learning standards are seriously into ensuring that we label kids as deficient as early as possible, and often. You can read the math learning standard for Pre-K at:

How We Learn
Alison Gopnik - New York Times
Imagine if baseball were taught the way science is taught in most inner-city schools. Schoolchildren would get lectures about the history of the World Series. High school students would occasionally reproduce famous plays of the past. Nobody would get in the game themselves until graduate school. So here's the big question: if children who don't even go to school learn so easily, why do children who go to school seem to have such a hard time? Why can children solve problems that challenge computers but stumble on a third-grade reading test? When we talk about learning, we really mean two quite different things, the process of discovery and of mastering what one discovers. All children are naturally driven to create an accurate picture of the world and, with the help of adults to use that picture to make predictions, formulate explanations, imagine alternatives and design plans. Call it ''guided discovery.'' If this kind of learning is what we have in mind then one answer to the big question is that schools don't teach the same way children learn.
Read the rest at:
Dr. Gopnik also submitted an interesting contribution in answer to the question at The Edge (What do you believe even though you cannot prove it?) She suggests that babies and children are more conscious, more aware of their external world and internal life, than adults. You can read that one at:

I Just Love Teenagers...
My son, Mister really-good-at-school, came home with a paper he had written for our school's new computer scoring program (designed to help our school get the pass rates up). He got a four on it, the top score. It is one and a quarter pages long. There are eight paragraphs. I have shortened it to share with you to just two paragraphs. Here is his brilliant writing:

I just wanted to see if this computer program worked. I just wanted to see if this computer program worked. I just wanted to see if this computer program worked. I just wanted to see if this computer program worked. I just wanted to see if this computer program worked. I just wanted to see if this computer program worked. I just wanted to see if this computer program worked. I just wanted to see if this computer program worked.
I just wanted to see if this computer program worked. I just wanted to see if this computer program worked. I just wanted to see if this computer program worked. I just wanted to see if this computer program worked. I just wanted to see if this computer program worked. I just wanted to see if this computer program worked. I just wanted to see if this computer program worked. I just wanted to see if this computer program worked.

As his mom, I am so proud of his advanced writing skills.
— Mickey VanDerwerker
Found at: (where I learned he is a 10th-grader)

File under 'Hmmmm..."
By: Rose Smith
Here's a new twist to the phrase "minding your p's and q's." Our perception of the world may be altered by our alphabet. Specifically, people whose written language lacks reverse characters (like b and d or p and q) seem to have difficulty recognizing mirror images as such.
Read about this at:

For your consideration...
This Australian website is ALL about food additives and preservatives -- which ones are believed to affect behavior, cause allergic reactions or illness, and which ones are safe. It's VERY detailed, which is great, but also rather overwhelming! Lots of studies sited, but also lots of anecdotal reports from parents.
This website contains a lot of information on all kinds of disabilities. One of the things I like about it is that for each disability there are multiple sources of information, which is an advantage for us consumers: we can look for the source that makes the most sense to us - the one written in a style I can understand, for example, or that seems most rational. This multiplicity of sources also suggests that really doesn't have an ideological agenda. Nice, these days...

Open Season on "Open Court"

Open Court, frequently adopted for teaching reading in elementary schools, is a phonics based program, and is both highly structured and highly scripted. By scripted I mean that the materials require that teachers teach by reading a script provided by the publisher instead of in a more natural way. In the context of growing resistance to standardized approaches to teaching and learning, on Jan 27 KPFA Radio in California interviewed a parent, a former teacher, and a university level reading professor about Open Court. The education professor was Margaret Mustafa, a well known and respected researcher who has published a study of Open Court. The former teacher had no experience with other reading programs and her feelings about this particular one were mixed. The most passionate of those interviewed was the parent, a mother who is truly fed up with Open Court. If you have a spare hour this month (ha!), take some time to go to the website to listen to the interview. It is at:
Click on "Listen" to the left of the date, January 27,2005 and a link will be downloaded to your computer. You'll have to listen to a few minutes of local news at the beginning, but that part doesn't last long.

From the "Oh, really?" Department...

Sample question from the new essay section of the Scholastic Achievement Test. Students will be given 25 minutes [25 WHOLE minutes?] to respond. College Board officials said they have several potential essay questions for each test site:

Think carefully about the issue presented in the following quotations and the assignment below:

1. While secrecy can be destructive, some of it is indispensable in human lives. Some control over secrecy and openness is needed in order to protect identity. Such control may be needed to guard privacy, intimacy and friendship.
-- Adapted from Sissela Bok, ''The Need for Secrecy"

2. Secrecy and a free, democratic government, President Harry Truman once said, don't mix. An open exchange of information is vital to the kind of informed citizenry essential to healthy democracy.
-- Editorial, ''Overzealous Secrecy Threatens Democracy"

Assignment: Do people need to keep secrets or is secrecy harmful? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.
SOURCE: College Board's SAT.

Excuse me - I hold two BA degrees and a Master of Arts, graduated with high honors, endured and left a highly successful career in education, both of youngsters, and of adults, have produced and published four books, put out this and another educational newsletter monthly, and I couldn't even formulate my point of view on that subject in 23 minutes, much less crank out a coherent essay on it in the remaining minute and a half. What planet do these people dwell on, I ask you? In the "real" world, when you you ever be asked to produce an essay on such a topic in a mere 25 minutes? OK, calming down now... But really, have we all gone insane? If for some reason you feel an irresistible urge to go look the original up, it's at:

Computers - Can't live with 'em, can't shoot 'em...

My ISP, in an effort to reduce spamming, has made some changes that appear to be interfering with my ability to send email. As a result I have spent the ENTIRE week, fiddling around with my system, and have had no time to put together any commentary of my own on "stuff." I had received a request for some comments on foreign language instruction. I beg to be allowed to put that in next month. I apologize for the lateness of this month's newsletter. Hoping to have the glitches fixed in time for the next one.


Keep an eye out for the PDCC ad in "Kids' Directory", a small brochure of services for children published monthly in this area. It became available in stores, businesses, doctors offices etc, starting January 1. If you'd like a copy, let me know and I'll mail you one!

Also, honk if you see my van around the county, which now sports jaunty silver lettering on the back window!

Have a great month!

Next Issue of Singular Minds: March 1, 2005 (fingers crossed...)

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