Learning Contract NP1

Section taken the official learning contract submission:

To be undertaken for 300 hours (30 credits) between May and September 2016.

“ Research and develop a script which is able to deliver the requirements of the main academic question”

Rationale

Dyslexia is often seen as a specific learning disability (SpLD) even though the various aspects of the condition are far more wide reaching and the commonly perceived ‘difficulty in reading’ is only the tip of the neurological iceberg. The reasons for this viewpoint is very easy to explain in that modern human development is reliant on education techniques that have been developed to favour a ‘neurotypical’ population. The initial stepping stone into modern adult life therefore, is dependant on only a small subset of dyslexic conditions.

Increasingly, Dyslexia specialists agree that the ‘specific learning difficulty’ is not that students have Dyslexia, but that they are being taught in an environment which is deliberately structured to be difficult to the non-neurotypical student. The validity of this opinion becomes clearer when examining dedicated Dyslexic schools where more appropriate teaching techniques are the norm. Students from such schools typically score very highly in examinations.

Unfortunately, such school environments can not be the norm - with an estimate 5-10% of all members of society being undiagnosed dyslexics, not only are there not sufficient places in such schools but many people with uninformed views or in fact alternate agendas have been known to campaign against the existence of beneficial SpLD accommodations. A recent case in SE England for example saw calls from an MP to have accommodations removed from Dyslexic students as they “were being given an advantage”.

Dedicated dyslexic education aside, an additional disadvantage for dyslexics is the very lack of knowledge on the part of both staff and other students in conventional school environments. Currently for example, initial student teacher training in the UK include a single session in regards to all special education needs. More in-depth training is left to specialism selection and is therefore not a norm in the classroom.

Dyslexics can be helped greatly through the implementation of very simple accommodations during work and play. While there are small documentary style instruction videos available, most are rather serious in nature and can not be described as anything other than ‘school work’ or ‘CPD’ (though this is changing in recent years). While the BDA have recently held competitions to create animation-based short films to illustrate dyslexia, on viewing these entries they are generally still very serious and indeed some of them might be quite frightening to a primary school audience. Whether any of them will be useful in informing young audiences (such as in the early years of a primary school) is therefore yet to be seen. The aim therefore of this module is to investigate a bright, near-humorous manner of delivering information about dyslexia and the trials of a dyslexic [P1LO2] - both good and bad - in a way that might be consumable by younger viewers, parents and teaching staff - essentially, the ‘family audience’. To this end, a script will be researched [P1LO1] and developed to provide a range of stereotypical experiences of a dyslexic and presented in a fictional dramatic manner rather than a docudrama of real people.

For the purposes of the delivery, it has been decided that the underlying style of Wes Anderson should be researched as a starting point, being both vivid and highly stylised. It is not however, simply a goal of producing a ‘Wes Anderson Film’, and a number of other styles and past proven successes are to be investigated and examined for potential input [P1LO1].

Theoretical Context

The majority of dramatic productions about medical / neurological issues are tackled in a serious manner. Indeed, the final production of this course was originally intended to be a documentary about dyslexia on a wider scale and was more than likely to be exclusively serious regardless of the ultimate production method.

The development of this and the following module however, has already raised the potential of breaking new ground in tackling the subject of neurological issues in a more lighthearted manner without regarding dyslexia in a comedic fashion [P1LO2/3]. Even when dealing with serious issues, the production styles already examined have shown that it can be handled in such a way that the rest of the production can act as a ‘buffer zone’ to the delivery.

Methodology

- Academic research through books, articles, online media and teaching organisations to collect and assess work that has been undertaken in the past regarding dyslexia in education [P1LO1/2].

- Research / interview dyslexics regarding their experiences (this will probably involve contact with local dyslexic-dedicated schools in order to specifically include current child experiences) as well as adult dyslexics now established in a (comparatively) dyslexic heavy occupation (in this case, the film industry) [P1LO1/2].

- Investigate the works of Wes Anderson and others, in both filmmaking and other media forms, and isolate those aspects of [filmmaking] style and presentation which may be advantageous to the course goal. [P1LO1/2].

Deliverables

The deliverables for this module will include:

- A script developed to reflect dyslexic experiences, and in a compatible style [P1LO2/3].

- A written reflective report covering my own performance and effectiveness during the module, and an overview of research on script writing and director styles influencing the script product [P1LO2/3/4].

Assessment

Assessment of the work done should be based upon the successful identification of:

- Quality of script, reflecting researched dyslexic experiences, and style of consumption for primary school children / staff / family [P1LO2],

- Ability of script to deliver the intended message without become a negative statement on the subject matter,

- Quality of reflective work, including discussion of relevant script development and artistic influences [P1LO2].