Fig. 1. My own vision of education as nurturing – like growing plants in a garden
‘Her metaphor for the brain is that of a garden, that’s full of the most interesting, different things that have to be constantly cultivated and constantly checked‘. This was Kirsty Young introducing her guest, Professor Uta Frith. (01:24 into the transmission, BBC Radio 4 2013)
Professor Uta Frith of University College London was on Desert Island Discs for the second time this week – this time round I paid close attention. I then went to the BBC website and took notes.
Having recently completed the Open University postgraduate module H810 Accessible Online Learning and of course interested in education, this offers insights on what studying autism and dyslexia tells us about the human mind.
There’s more in another BBC broadcast – Uta Frith interviewed for the BBC’s Life Scientific – Broadcast 6 Dec 2011 accessed 1st March 2013 – and available, by the way, until January 2099 should you not be able to find time and want your dyslexic grandchildren to listen.
The difference between someone who is autistic and the rest of us is how we each of us see the world.
‘We learn by taking different perspectives – something about ourselves which we otherwise would have never known’. Uta Frith (2013)
‘Take what’s given to you and make the best of it, but of course the cultivation is key to all of these things, so culture in our lives, learning from other people … these are the really, really important things’. Uta Frith (2013)
We may all have some of this in us.
Genetic factors matter.
‘How we are raised is a myth. It is not right. It has been so very harmful. It is a illusion to think that doing the right things, for example that you get from books, that you can change things.’ Uta Frith (2013)
Then from BBC’s Life Scientific
‘A passionate advocate of neuroscience and how its findings can be used in the classroom to improve learning. She hopes that eventually neuroscience will inform education in the same way that anatomy informs medicine’. (01:35 in, BBC 2013)
Uta Firth wants knowledge of the brain to inform education the way knowledge of the body informs medicine.
Professor Uta Frith is best known for her research on autism spectrum disorders. Her book, Autism, Explaining the Enigma (1989) has been translated into many languages. She was one of the initiators of the study of Asperger’s Syndrome in the UK and her work on reading development, spelling and dyslexia has been highly influential.
Throughout her career she has been developing a neuro-cognitive approach to developmental disorders.
In particular, she has investigated specific cognitive processes and their failure in autism and dyslexia. Her aim is to discover the underlying cognitive causes of these disorders and to link them to behavioural symptoms as well as to brain systems. She aims to make this research relevant to the education of people with development disorders and to contribute to a better quality of their everyday life.
The above profile form the UCL pages
Uta Frith on YouTube on early years, then on dyslexia
Frith, U (1989/2003) Autism – explaining the enigma (second edition)
Frith, U (2008) Autism – a very short introduction
Uta Frith, Desert Island Discs, BBC Radio 4, Transmission accessed 1st March 2013
Uta Frith, The Life Scientific, BBC Radio 4, from BBC website as a podcast (accessed 1st March 2013
University College London, Staff. Website (accessed 1st March 2013)