HomedyslexiaSo, what DO Einstein and the TMNT have in common?

My day was consumed by ninjas. No, hungry ninjas did not steal my calenders; hubby and I just went to see the new Ninja Turtles movie today, plus I made the mistake of downloading Fruit Ninja on my phone.

I have the urge to make some more of these cute little guys.

First off, the movie was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. There were quite a few parts where heavy eyeball rolling was involved, but overall, it was actually rather entertaining. They even threw some inside jokes in that had hubby, some other members of the audience who were obviously long time fans and me giggling at.

As for Fruit Ninja – well, that’s an addictive game. Odd, considering it’s basically just glorified cyber-fruit salad. Who knew cutting fruit up could be so satisfying?


Just for the fun of it, I decided to do a search for “TMNT learning disabilities” to see what would come up. One of the results that came up was something called “The Story of Einstein’s Ninja Turtles”. The name alone evoked some rather novel mental images, primarily the four turtles learning from a strange Splinter/Einstein hybrid, but I had the feeling that wasn’t exactly accurate so I decided to look further into it.

The phrase “Einstein’s Ninja Turtles” came from a study, which you can read here. It was very tiny, with only eight boys, but the goal was to see if interest driven learning could be used as a tool to help older children with severe reading disabilities improve.

After the boys’ brains were all imaged, and preliminary data was collected, each boy was given a folder with a picture of Einstein on it, with unique Ninja Turtles, each named after each child.

They chose this unlikely partnership for the following reasons:

  • Einstein very likely had some sort of learning disability, though he was never formally diagnosed. The symptoms he displayed throughout his life point most strongly towards dyslexia and high functioning autism.
  • The researchers chose the boys in part because they had a strong familial background of reading based learning disabilities. That backs up the theory that dyslexia is hereditary, but the unique genetic mutation that may have caused it in the first place may give dyslexics strengths to counteract their weaknesses, much like the Ninja Turtles use their skills in the stories.
  • Like the fable of the tortoise and the hare, dyslexics more often than not get off to a slow start, but through determination and steady effort, they can “win” the educational race in the end.

In the end, the results demonstrated that incorporating the students’ interests into lessons can have a favorable outcome. Each boy improved after the program they took part in for the study, and continued to do so in the years after it was finished.

I’m sure this is something teachers all over the world already know about, but it is interesting to see it demonstrated in such a novel way.

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