Perspectives on Whole Child Literacy

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Scaling Innovation: Where Do We Go from Here?

Categories: General

The search for solutions is often undertaken without giving due attention to causes. For instance, one needs eyes to read, and as a result, one might assume that problems in learning must be related to how we see. In this case, the truth is counterintuitive. Jeanne S. Chall has written that “The reading gaps of the deaf as compared to the blind seem almost a contradiction. The blind are the better readers. This happens because reading is closer to hearing than to seeing.” Perhaps we can modify Dr. Reid Lyon’s approach to discovering what should be done to focus on the true core issues regarding causes for the lack of improved outcomes for students in spite of decades of meaningful research.

  1. How do effective teachers acquire a meaningful depth of knowledge?

  2. Why do many teachers lack a meaningful depth of knowledge?

  3. How can a lack of meaningful depth of knowledge be prevented? 

Decades of consistent, rigorous, and replicable research have informed us on what is wrong and what should be done to help. Some refer to this observation as “settled science.” Nevertheless, when confronted with the underwhelming impact that such research has had, we continue to address our limited resources to determine what constitutes a meaningful depth of knowledge when we should be focusing on logistics and the ability to distribute that which has already been stockpiled.

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About the Author

Emerson Dickman, JD ( is a special education attorney and child advocate specializing in the representation of children and adults with disabilities for over 40 years. He has often credited his wife, Georgette, and his children for the passion with which he pursues his life's work. His own experience as an individual with dyslexia has deepened his understanding and sensitivity to the special needs of individuals with disabilities and the concerns of their families.

His four decades of experience in the education sphere give him the depth of knowledge to support families to ensure their child's needs are being appropriately met by the programs and services provided in school.

He is past-President of the International Dyslexia Association and was a founding member of the consensus committee gathered in 1992 to create the legal definition for dyslexia. He speaks about dyslexia on the national and international state, promoting awareness and advocacy. He, along with his wife, Georgette Dickman, won the Margaret Byrd Rawson Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Dyslexia Association in 2012. He is currently a partner in the firm of Manes and Weinberg.

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