How My Teaching and Technology Almost Failed One of My Students

Farhat Ahmad, EdSurge, May 10, 2018
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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The title should be "How bad questions misdiagnosed one of my students." And it's something that long predates the current digital age. In this case, the student is expected to pick up on some satire, but understanding satire requires background knowledge the student might not have. I remember in grade seven (this would be in the 1970s) being given what turned out to be a test of my reading speed. It consisted of short instructions to follow. I didn't know it was a test of reading speed so when I encountered questions like "draw a cross" I sat and thought about whether I was expected to draw a Christian cross or an x. I finally settled on the former, but the time it took me to think through what they were asking for led to my diagnosis as a slow reader. At the time, though, I had previously been measured as reading 600 words per minute, and reading speed has always been one of my strengths.

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