Oral histories: the gender history of the dyslexia ‘myth’

7th February 2019 : 12:45 - 14:00

Category: Seminar

Research Group: Qualitative Methods Hub

Speaker: Dr Philip Kirby (Faculty of History)

Location: Seminar Room B, Department of Education

The ‘dyslexia debate’ continues to attract attention. Recent years have seen a spike in critics claiming that dyslexia is no more than a myth.

Such views have received widespread coverage in the media and elsewhere, and been met with a series of counter-arguments by the dyslexia community. Missing from the debate, however, is a historical perspective. In this talk, the origins of the modern dyslexia movement are explored, casting light on three key tenets of the dyslexia myth: dyslexia’s putative connection with ‘worried mothers’, the middle-classes and dubious science. Drawing from a series of oral histories, the talk suggests these critiques can be understood as the product of a particular, gendered history.

Dr Philip Kirby  previously worked in education policy at the Sutton Trust, before joining the University of Oxford as research associate on the project, ‘The History of Dyslexia’. https://dyslexiahistory.web.ox.ac.uk/home

About the Department of Education

In 2019, the University of Oxford’s Department of Education celebrates the 100th year since the passing of a statute creating what was known in 1919 as the University Department for the Training of Teachers. To celebrate our centenary a year-long series of activities will be delivered to address some of the department’s top initiatives for 2019, answer some of the big questions facing education today and to reveal the advancements the department has made to the study of and research in the field of education. Join us as we mark our 100th year and discover more about our anniversary here.

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