Oct 25, 2013

Freedom Writers Diary #70 Dyslexia

The Freedom Writers Diary

Diary #70 Dyslexia

Dear Diary,


John Tu donated thirty-five computers to our class, and what a difference they make! Ms. G said we’re not limited to just using them on English assignments. She’s going to let us use them for projects for our other classes before and after school. The most amazing part is that Ms. G and Mr. Tu created a contract stating that whoever has the highest grade point average from now until graduation will win a computer for college. That means that I have a chance to get a computer if I keep my grades up. For some reason, I feel like I’ll do better than I have the past two years.


It feels good to start off with a clean slate. Not many people get a chance like this since most people seen to make judgments based on the past. Unfortunately, the education system tends to dismiss kids based on their past and not on their potential. Throughout my years of education, only Ms. Gruwell took action to help me with my learning disability. As a matter of fact, when I told one teacher in junior high that I thought I had dyslexia, he told me that I was just lazy. Yeah, right! Me, lazy? I would end up with the same routine before every vocabulary test or important assignment. I would spend a week trying to memorize words that, no matter what I did, I couldn’t spell right. On test days, I would turn in the test, and get an F. All I could do was hope that I’d do better on the next one.


It only got worse in high school, where there were more spelling and essay tests, with more complicated words that seemed too impossible to memorize. Finally, I just started to think, “Why should I even try? I am just going to end up with an ‘F’ anyway.” It seems that an “F” was going to symbolize what I would end up in the future. I felt especially hopeless and depressed when I had to take an essay where spelling counted toward my grade. I wanted to do well, but no matter how many great answers I had in my head, I couldn’t spell words right, I was going to fail. It wasn’t like I could ask someone sitting next to me how to spell a word, and I wouldn’t just bust out the dictionary, because that would be considered cheating. That’s why I always hated turning my essays in, because the teacher would look at me that he “didn’t expect me to do well anyway.” When he told me this, I felt hopeless because I couldn’t prove him wrong, at least not yet.


When I heard we were going to write stories, I can’t tell you that I was too happy. I started to picture me with a dictionary, looking up words all night long. Since Ms. Gruwell was my English teacher, I didn’t want her to think I was stupid like the other teachers did. This was my chance to prove my other teachers wrong. Then I heard the bad news: She expected us to crank out a story in a couple days. My friend said that it would be easier for me now because we had computers. I was still scared because I didn’t want anyone to know that I couldn’t write. As I turned on the computer, I still was uncertain if Bill Gates’ creation was going to help me in any way….


At the end of the day, I was surprised to see that I didn’t have to substitute a word in the story just because I couldn’t spell it. Thanks to spell check, now I feel like there are no limits or boundaries enclosing my ideas and feelings. Sitting in front of the monitor with my fingers on the keyboard makes me feel powerful in a way I never have before.