I’ve been mailing seeds: San Francisco, California. Culpeper, VA. Oregon City, Oregon. Oakland, California. San Mateo, California. Louisville, Kentucky. El Cajon, California. East Greenville, Pennsylvania. Kennesaw, Georgia. South Bend, Indiana. Albuquerque, New Mexico. Freeport, Ohio. Culpepper, Virginia. Langhorne, Pennsylvania. Cluis, France.
Seed: noun/verb, which means that it’s both a thing and a thing you can do, but in our written language it was a thing first. It’s rare in Present Day English for <seed> to surface in a construction where it means “offspring, children” but originally it also had that sense.
I bet you can guess why.
My seeds are called Truer Words. No one gave me permission to gather my understandings together and self publish them. I don’t have a PhD. I’m not endowed with shiny certificates and endorsements. I’m just a dyslexic person who finally understands her own writing system because I had the good fortune to study in good company, which afforded me the opportunity to weed all the phonics lies out of my brain.
Do you know what feels weird? Seeing your ideas and creative energy in tangible form. The moment you get to hold something you have only previously thought about (obsessively, for months). Here I am. Here are my seeds.
I am a dyslexic, big picture processor who is predisposed to connecting distantly related things at the expense of fine detail. You don’t need to feel bad for me and no for the love of God I do not see things backwards. Please stop asking me that.
Recently someone asked me why I’m so angry. Let me tell you why, internet: I’m angry because our greatest resource is our seeds and phonics is like Monsanto. Do you guys even know about Monsanto? Did you know the dyslexia industry is corrupt?
The Center for Food and Safety wrote a piece entitled, “History of Seed in the U.S.: The Untold American Revolution” in August 2012. It’s a sobering read.
Over the past 40 years, the U.S. has led a radical shift toward commercialization, consolidation, and control of seed. Prior to the advent of industrial agriculture, there were thousands of seed companies and public breeding institutions. At present the top 10 seed and chemical companies, with the majority stake owned by U.S. corporations, controls 73 percent of the global market. Today, fewer than 2 percent of Americans are farmers, whereas 90 percent of our citizens lived on farms in 1810. This represents perhaps a more transformative revolution than even the Revolutionary War recorded in our history books.
Hopefully you are a person who has been taught how to read so you can dive into those history books and make sense of them. If you’re dyslexic let’s hope Orton-Gillingham works for you, because if it doesn’t we’ll probably just blame you for that failure to germinate.
Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country, and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bonds.” (Notes on the State of Virginia, Paris, 1785)
Thomas Jefferson would be bummed if he knew just how much agricultural biotechnology has chipped away at the liberty and independence of those who grow our food. You would be bummed if you knew just how badly teachers are prepared to teach every type of seed, not just the genetically engineered ones, how to read, spell and do math. The 1990s gave us an explosion of seed and chemical mergers and phonics. 2001 gave us No Child Left Behind (aka No Child Left Untested But Even More Left Behind) and J.E.M. Ag Supply v. Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a case in which the Supreme Court upheld the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office practice of seed patenting.
Nearly all genetically engineered seeds are sold by Monsanto and are resistant to a single herbicide (glyphosate). You can only understand what “herbicide” means if you look at the structure: herb + i + cide à herbicide, a compound with base elements denoting, respectively, “grass, weed, plant” and “killing.” It’s on my <herb> card in my deck. Monsanto’s herbicide-resistant seeds and glyphosate—marketed as Roundup Ready by Monsanto—are sold together as a highly profitable, packaged system.
Kinda like how the same few educational publishing companies are lining up to provide scripted curriculum, standardized tests and special education materials. Yessir, we can totally reduce English orthography to seven syllable types and a bunch of spelling rules, trust us, this is research based. Oh you need something to measure the kids who don’t grow? No problem, we got you covered there too. No need to save your own seeds folks, just buy new workbooks each year! You don’t need a real understanding of our orthography to teach it, just research based materials!
Restricting and influencing independent scientific research is yet another result of consolidation of the seed and chemical industry. Many believe that the legacy of the land grant universities and research institutes initiated during America’s development have now become tainted as these institutions often function as handmaidens of agribusinesses. Seed and chemical companies now partner with these public institutions by providing funding and sometimes personnel. The seed industry sees this as a win-win—it provides additional resources to these institutions and, in turn, the research benefits the public. Yet the companies seem to derive the largest piece of the proverbial American Pie as they use the technology and research, much of it paid for by U.S. citizen tax dollars, to generate private profits.
We’ve spent millions researching phonological processing to death, and proved without a shadow of a doubt that dyslexics tend to have innate difficulty manipulating disembodied phonemes. Okay. Call me crazy but that task also falls under the “has a hard time with meaningless details” umbrella. Call me crazy but why are we trusting the same people who sell us boxes to present an unbiased view of how English orthography functions? Call me crazy but why did everyone decide to assume that our writing system is most coherently understood as a bunch of sound/symbol correspondences?
The same person who asked me why I was so angry claimed some teachers just need a script. If you need a script then you should not be a teacher. If you can only grow one thing that you also have to spray with literal poison then you should not be a farmer. Not everyone can farm or teach. That’s not a moral judgment. It’s an observation.
Promoting homogenous seed stocks via seed patenting and industrial agriculture has resulted in a dramatic loss of plant biodiversity. Attempting to teach children how to read without considering morphology and etymology first has resulted in a dramatic lack of real understanding. A 1983 study by the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) found that over the course of eighty years, the U.S. lost 93 percent of its agricultural genetic diversity. RAFI’s report concludes that 75 percent of today’s food calories worldwide are derived from just nine plants.
In 2013 the U.S. Department of Justice reported that 85% of juvenile offenders have reading problems. When you have trouble blossoming things typically don’t end well for you.
Gee I hope nothing goes wrong with one of the nine plants that feeds the majority of the human race. I'm also praying that the big picture processor whose more diverse neural structure holds the potential cure for cancer doesn’t end up in prison because her teachers are only equipped with a script, which (when the Tier 3, 2 and 1 don’t work because they are all different versions of the same script) eventually lands her in tutoring that claims the most meaningful way to understand the word “action” is to divide it into ac/tion.
Orton-Gillingham programs and courses claim that our gorgeously diverse orthography can be boiled down to seven syllable types and a bunch of spelling rules that all have exceptions. Their premise is false, but somehow that isn’t supposed to matter because they are trying really hard to help the dyslexics and are such nice people, and besides they might even mention at the end of their course or workshop about how there's another type of understanding one could cultivate that happens to be true.
The thing is? You reap what you sow.