“Children are taught to cram, not understand”

I met an inspirational woman on a visit to Virgin Active in Johannesburg recently, who told me her goal in life is to teach children to read in memory of her daughter. 

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Kele said her daughter was a bookworm and read 21 books in a year but many other children were struggling at school and not getting the help they need. 

She said there is a big problem with education as children are “taught to cram, not to understand”.

She told me how important it is that kids equip themselves with the power of knowledge so they can become the next CEOs. I’m so proud to have people like Kele work for Virgin Active in South Africa. 

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I also completely agree with her sentiment that children are taught to pass exams rather than understand concepts and expand their minds.

The mark of a great CEO is someone who leads by example and embodies their company’s character. Virgin CEOs have to be disruptive, fun and not afraid to take risks – these are qualities schools are often failing to teach in their rigid guidelines.

I’m incredibly grateful to my parents as they supported my outlandish ideas from a young age. Due to my dyslexia, school wasn’t my strong suit and they supported my decision to drop out and start Student magazine.

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Many children are set up to fail by a system that only cares about exam results. I want to see education reimagined to support creative minds and alternative thinkers. I don’t want children with dyslexia to feel at a disadvantage because they think in a different way to other children – this is a talent that should be nurtured. I want to see possibilities explored and children having adventures. 

Made By Dyslexia is a charity dedicated to changing the stigma around dyslexia. It is not a disadvantage; it is merely a different way of thinking. For me, it is really important that we provide young people with the support they need to succeed, and to understand dyslexia as a different and brilliant way of thinking. Every child has different strengths and we need to appreciate and nurture them. We need to give them the confidence to go out in the world and be themselves and make a difference.

If we give children the freedom to learn by failing we will encourage a generation of entrepreneurs who can change the world and drive innovation.

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