Unveiling the world
: critical dialogue and the process of conscientization With dyslexic students in higher education

  • Beth Sennett

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Much of the current literature on dyslexia aims to observe and record the difficulties and challenges faced by individuals with dyslexia. This research invariably centres on exploring cognitive difficulties, educational challenges or social barriers. However, this approach, which concentrates on highlighting deficits and the challenges of being dyslexic, does little to change the lives of individuals with dyslexia and often serves to reinforce the discourse of failure. This thesis aims to challenge this narrative.

    The focus of this thesis is a small-scale participatory action research project conducted with a group of dyslexic students (as co-researchers) in a UK university. The project draws upon the writings of teacher and educational theorist Paulo Freire. Freire theorizes the mechanisms that maintain the oppression of particular social groups. He advocates a process whereby the oppressed engage in critical dialogue with each other and with the world around them in order to illuminate the historical, social and political forces that have led to and maintain their oppression. Through a series of workshops, the co-researchers of this study critically discussed themes around dyslexia, education and literacy. Through these conversations, the group began to uncover areas for transformation, leading to them engaging in action. Freire argues that this praxis grows out of and cultivates a critical awakening where the oppressed begin to ‘unveil the world’ that has constructed their oppression. He refers to this process as ‘conscientization’, an ongoing dialectical critical engagement with the world and with others.

    This study explored the development of conscientization, with the co-researchers, in order to further illuminate this process. Their engagement as active subjects and the continuing conversations that arose from this engagement, further elucidated the causes of oppression for dyslexic individuals. In recognising how these causes maintain and normalise an exclusionary education system, all co-researchers transformed how they perceived their dyslexia. In turn, this transformation in consciousness, resulted in many of them actively taking steps to change their world.
    Date of Award23 Mar 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Winchester
    SupervisorShaun Best (Supervisor) & Wayne Veck (Supervisor)


    • Dyslexia
    • Freire
    • Conscientization

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