Windward School Opens Manhattan Campus Under Expert Leadership of Dr. John Russell
By Lydia Liebman
92Y and The Windward School celebrated Windward’s arrival in New York City toward the end of 2015. The evening’s feature was “Digital Reading and the Dyslexic Brain”, a lecture by renowned author and reading researcher Maryanne Wolf. An author of over 140 scientific publications, Wolf is the John DiBaggio Professor of Citizenship and Public Service, Director of the Center for Reading and Language and the Professor in the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development at Tufts University.
The dynamic and energetic Wolf presented a “whirlwind tour” of the reading brain that explored, in her words, “how we as a species are changing in a digital culture,” she said, “…the promise, the threats and the questions we all must be raising together.” Using reading as a case study, Wolfe explored how insights from the reading brain can inform about the development of children, a little bit about dyslexia and what is happening today. Among the many topics Wolf talked about was the importance of deep reading and the relative loss of it amongst today’s technology. Deep reading, which according to Wolf is the array of sophisticated processes that propel comprehension and include deductive reasoning, analogical skills, critical analysis, reflection and insight, takes time to deploy in children and takes many years to be developed. “My greatest concern is with our children,” she said, asking. “Will changes in attention and the expectation for constant and immediate information from external platforms threaten the formation of deep reading?” She cited the phenomenon of the “busy mind”, which is the mind that skips from one thought to the next without entering the depths that words give.
Wolf spent the last part of her lecture talking about the importance of access to education through technology. She asks, “can we create a tablet that can help children learn to read even if they have no teacher or school in impoverished areas?” She discussed her Global Literacy Project and a recent visit to rural Ethiopian villages. There, it took less than four minutes for a young boy to manage a tablet. Within a week, all the children in the village were able to use the tablet and its reading apps. Within a year, the children had learned the alphabet, could recognize words by sight and had mastered other apps that would assist them in future learning.
Following her lecture, Wolf sat down with Bloomberg news anchor and Windward parent Stephanie Ruhle. During this segment, Wolf and Ruhle discussed the lecture in depth and discussed dyslexia.
Overall, the evening was a wonderful welcome to an important and groundbreaking institution in New York City. The new Manhattan campus is located at 205 East 92nd street and plans to collaborate often with the 92Y, where the welcome ceremony took place. #