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Filtering by Category: Current Events

Mylo Talks Dyslexia

Mylo Dunlop

In honor of National Dyslexia Awareness Month, we’ve tracked down Mylo to share a few thoughts on the true definition of dyslexia and how he’s become more confident in himself as a learner since discovering his learning difference.

Q: When did you find out that you had dyslexia and how?

M: I found out that I had dyslexia when I was in 7th grade. My mom told me that I had dyslexia, which meant that I learn differently from other people, but that it was not a bad thing. She explained that everyone learns differently, that our brains are all wired differently, and that reading and writing might be more challenging for me. 

Q: Can you explain dyslexia to those who are unfamiliar with it? 

M: Dyslexia makes reading and writing harder. Reading individual words is okay, however understanding the meaning of a full sentence or paragraph can be challenging. Following text in sequence can also be a struggle, as I will randomly skip lines, then have to double back and re-read from where I left off. As I see it, dyslexia does have its advantages, as topics like math, sciences and art come easily to me. This may be because I am more of a visual thinker and can easily see things from different perspectives.

Q: Do you think people understand what dyslexia truly is?

M: People definitely do not know what dyslexia truly is, as it is still viewed as a problem. I feel like most people, and even schools, don’t understand that all kids naturally learn differently. Most schools are also not set up to teach to the individual learner, which makes dyslexia stand out even more. Even kids don’t really understand that dyslexia is not a problem.
Like any person, we have our strengths and weaknesses. Reading and writing are naturally not going to be areas of strength. 

Q: Can you share a bit about what it means for you to have dyslexia? 

M: Personally, I approach things in a very visual and mathematical way. For me, it’s honestly kind of just normal, as I knew from an early age that I had dyslexia and so I kind of just grew into it knowing how I learned best. I just found other ways to approach the same things that other kids were doing. I also have a lot of positive support from my parents. I do, however, have to work longer and harder with reading and writing assignments than most kids.

Q: What is your advice to people who don’t have a learning difference to understand people that do?

M: Just understand that dyslexia and other learning differences occur in a lot of kids, it is not a choice or a measure of intelligence. It is simply the way we are wired. There’s not only one way to do things, one thought process, or one way of coming to a conclusion. A lot of people learn in different ways and this needs to be understood.

Q: What is your advice to someone who has just learned that they have dyslexia? 

M: Don’t get overwhelmed by it. It’s something you’ve been living with for your entire life, and it’s okay. Many brilliant and successful people are dyslexic. It’s important to simply understand that you learn differently and to figure out how you learn best. Dyslexia is your normal, and it’s just a different way of looking at things. 

Everyone learns differently, and that should be celebrated! Learn more about Mylo and our story  under the 'The Story' tab on our website. 






The Grade Game

Virginia Pavlick

Come Sunday night, many university students are looking at another long, hard week. A full class load, work, volunteering, and extracurricular activities can keep the average college student at full capacity, both physically and mentally. When time is running short and stress over grades is running high, it can be tough for many students to resist succumbing to an easy solution. Whether for a particularly tough and point-heavy assignment or for an exam, the popularity of for-profit tutoring companies among college students is now at an all-time high.

The cost of college tuition continues to rise each year. With additional costs for textbooks, housing, meal plans, and incidental costs added in, the final price tag is tremendous, and enough to laden 71% of college graduates with student loan debt. While a quality education certainly holds value for all graduates in the working world, transcripts and GPAs now distinguish the top few percent. When summer internships and elite post-graduate positions are on the line, students are willing to call in outside help to make the grade. In this recent article published by The Chronicle of Higher Education, author Jeffrey Young addresses the flashy marketing that draws in students—and their money.

Two for-profit tutoring companies, Chegg and Studypool, play off of students’ two main desires that are often in conflict with one another.

“Both Chegg and Studypool have edgy marketing campaigns that make light of the balance students face between their academic and social lives. One ad for Studypool shows a split screen of two photographs. On one side, a student sits in a library, under the caption ‘Didn’t ask Studypool’; on the other side, two students lie on the beach in bikinis, with the caption ‘Asked Studypool’".

And while there is certainly an argument surrounding the underlying point of such companies (i.e. purchasing an easy A vs. truly learning the course material), our biggest concern at MyloWrites is the potential for stark inequality between students. For those who can afford to shell out the additional funds for tutoring services, no harm no foul. But for those who can’t, and perhaps are also working part-time to help pay tuition, the game just got extremely unfair.

In classes with a “curve,” that grade boost is now significantly lower due to the potentially inflated grades of the students who were able to benefit from extra tutoring. Some universities, like the NYU Stern School of Business, even force a normal bell-curve for grade distribution, meaning that students compete directly against one another to secure one of the ten or so allotted A-grade slots.

One of our founding principles at MyloWrites is a belief that supportive resources and quality education should be available to all. Tutoring is an excellent resource that each and every student should have access to. As mentioned in the article, free tutoring centers at universities suffer from poor marketing and low awareness. So what can be done?

Penn State is addressing the problem through a “rebrand” of the college tutoring organization, including updated methods of accessing the resource and social media marketing. Other universities are taking the “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach by partnering with for-profit tutoring companies and paying a substantial part of the cost for students. Either method has the potential to suppress the prevalence of for-profit tutoring companies, though it requires an honest recognition of the presence of paid tutoring on individual campuses. For-profit tutoring companies can hardly be banned or prevented. In order to keep access to extra help truly equitable, universities must do a better job communicating offerings for students and responding to student needs in real time.

Spotlight: Schools Without Internet in Rural America

Virginia Pavlick

As an Ed-tech company, we at MyloWrites are admittedly guilty of digital absorption. With all of the technological advancements that have been made in the past two decades, it is easy to become caught up in the world of liking, sharing, posting, and swiping. It is hard to imagine adolescents and teens who aren’t online, let alone those who simply can’t be. Yet in rural districts across the nation, students have become accustomed to the infamous spinning wheel of a struggling network connection.  Built on a foundation of working technology, we at MyloWrites feel as though this issue more than deserves our attention.

“The Slowest Internet in Mississippi”, chapter one of the three-part project Reversing a Raw Deal published by EdWeek, describes the struggles and frustrations that have become commonplace to rural schools without Internet (click here to read parts two and three). In Mississippi’s Calhoun County, author Benjamin Herold writes of the teachers’ inability to load their school’s online attendance system. Online research for class projects is out of the question, as is computerized state testing – an attempt made last spring is described simply as “a disaster”.  Perhaps most frustrating is the futility of desktop computers, SmartBoards and other expensive hardware; without an Internet connection, such devices just take up space.

The article focuses on one 17 year-old student who expresses her concern over the upcoming competition for college admittance. As a Mississippi State University hopeful, she worries that her high school’s lack of technological resources has cost her valuable learning opportunities. With so many new study and tutoring tools available online (MyloWrites included), this anxiety is valid. Even the college application process itself presents hurdles; how can students keep track of the numerous requirements and write multiple essays when they don’t even have access to university websites?

Herold states that 1 in 5 rural districts lack a high-speed Internet connection. And, for those that do manage to secure workable Internet, the bills are dramatically higher. Writes Herold,

“In places like the vast, sparsely populated plains of western New Mexico, that means telecommunications companies routinely bill $3,000 per month or more for Internet service most U.S. schools could get for one-sixth the cost.”

How can this be? The article cites geography and poor policy as top reasons, but also notes the malicious business practices of telecoms as a contributor. Companies like AT&T and Verizon Wireless have been known to take advantage of the system and charge obscene rates, while other smaller companies act as local monopolies.

Mississippi and New Mexico are not alone. In another recently published article, Education News writes of the Internet connectivity gaps prevalent in nearly all Alaskan schools. The national benchmark for Internet speed is set at 1000 Kbps; according to Education News, 93% of schools in Alaska fail to meet this requirement. Towns with high levels of poverty and Native American villages face the toughest challenges. According to the article, the main contributing factors are terrain, topography, and lack of infrastructure. Though rural states like Alaska and Mississippi do present geographical hurdles, for the rest of the country, problems with Internet speed seem nearly a decade old. Technological advances have opened a world of educational opportunity to connected students; how have we allowed others to fall so far behind?

Both articles acknowledge the increase in E-rate spending recently approved by the Federal Communications Commission as a glimmer of hope. The E-rate program charges fees on consumers’ phone bills in order to help fund the cost of Internet for schools and libraries. Though not without its criticism, the increase of E-rate money is generally thought of as the solution for which rural states have been waiting. Says Education Week of the recent legislation,

“The E-rate overhaul has opened the door for a major breakthrough here. In April, Calhoun County [Mississippi] received an offer for Internet connections 300 times faster than what its schools currently have, at about one-half the cost.”

But progress is moving slowly, and the battle is not yet won. MyloWrites hopes to improve awareness of the severity of the issue and encourage our readers to educate themselves and others about the E-rate program. We often forget how lucky we are to live in a place with such vast technological possibility that make educational resources like MyloWrites possible. Learn more about the FCC and the E-rate program here.