How much do you know about dyslexia? If I told you that many of history’s most dynamic achievers were dyslexics would you believe me?
Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell – each of these game-changers were dyslexics. In fact, 40 per cent of the world’s self-made millionaires have dyslexia. Still think of it as a disadvantage?
I was in London last month to open ‘the world’s first dyslexia sperm bank’ – an initiative championed by a cause close to my heart, Made By Dyslexia. On the back of the launch, I sat down with the campaign’s founder, Kate Griggs, and the founder of Finsbury, Roland Rudd – two fellow dyslexics – for a conversation about our experience with the advantage some people still call a ‘learning disability’. Listen to the podcast.
Unlike Kate Griggs and Roland Rudd I didn’t attend a school that catered to my way of thinking. When I was a child no one really knew what it was; you were bright, middle of the class or stupid. I was typecast as the latter: lazy and dumb. I would sit at the back of the class, trying to make sense of the chalkboard, which was always very much a jumble to me. I couldn’t keep up and didn’t fit in, so I left school aged 15.
And it was the best thing I ever did. Trading in strict school curriculum to focus on my passion – which, at the time, was starting a magazine called Student that was centred on giving young people a voice – I began my real education. Freed from entrenched systematic practices and allowed to think for myself, my brain opened up and so did my world.
I’m not saying that leaving school is alwaysthe answer – we’ve come such a long way since then. However, today a third of dyslexic children openly admit to feeling as if they have been left behind by conventional education. Making it very obvious that it’s time to rethink education across the board, and not just in specialist schools.
All schools should be encouraging all students, not just dyslexics, to put their energy behind what they are good at. Success comes much easier and more rewarding to those that focus on their passions.
We need to train teachers in identifying students’ strengths, as well as their weaknesses, so that they can teach in a way that caters to people, not textbooks and curriculum.
Dyslexia is not a disadvantage, it's a different way of thinking. If dyslexics get the support they need early on, they can achieve extraordinary things. One in 10 people in the UK have dyslexia – that is over six million people. Just imagine the difference we could make if every one of these people were encouraged to achieve their potential and strive to make their dreams a reality.
Have we challenged your perception of dyslexia? If given the choice, would you want your child to be dyslexic? We’d love to hear you thoughts, or about your experience, in the comments below.