I was thrilled when I saw the following quote on Twitter from dyslexic entrepreneur and Dragon’s Den star, Theo Paphitis. In his comment he totally nailed the problem with our education system. It simply doesn’t value the attainment of values and skills that children with dyslexia and SEN have. It only values attainment through the regurgitation of facts and figures because that is what the education tests our children on.
Dyslexics are known for having strengths in big picture thinking, problem solving, people skills, 3D thinking and many more, but there are not exams for those skills.
In the quote from Theo Paphitis shows that despite being a likeable student and one that was clearly respected by teachers, his ability to win people over counted for nothing because he was being judged by other standards. On paper, his attainment was low, but in real life he has acquired a net worth of £301m through his business activities.
Theo said the following in a recent article from the Times about members of the Times Rich List who were not high achievers at school:
“The school report of my final year read that I was “a splendid person with fine qualities, but unfortunately there are not examinations in this field".”
The article itself made the following point:
“Close study of The Sunday Times Rich List reveals that a surprising number of our most successful entrepreneurs were kids whose schooldays were often exercises in shame, frustration, boredom, rebellion and epic failure. It is these rule-breakers, those who challenge authority and convention, the troublemakers who drive teachers mad, the dyslexic and the inglorious academic failures who shall inherit the earth. Or at least make a shedload of money. “
Now I don’t want this article to be one of those ‘Look here is a dyslexic celebrity…’ type articles, but I do want to highlight a specific point.
Why is it that we have dyslexic students who are known to have skills in problem solving, bigger picture thinking, spatial thinking, people skills and entrepreneurship (and many more) and yet our education really only measures how one can regurgitate facts and figures in a certain way?
Clearly there are skills that are not easily measurable that are of huge importance later in life in the workplace which schools should be making more of a point in developing?
To do this, our teachers need to understand the strengths that come with dyslexia and other special educational needs whilst also providing effective support for the weaknesses that are presented.
I believe strongly that whether we are parents or teachers we should strive to learn as much as we can about SEN and share information and resources.
This is why I have worked with my friend and dyslexia assessor, Georgina Smith to organise the SEN Jigsaw Conference that seeks to attract teachers and parents to a range of SEN specific talks and workshops that deliver a wider understanding of these conditions and strategies to support.
If you are a teacher looking for CPD, then on June 8th 2019, you could join us in Stoke-on-Trent where you will get a certificate of attendance for your training records.
As a parent if you attend you will get to network with many people like you, with teachers and specialists and talk through challenges and solutions that will be explored on the day.
I would like to personally invite you as one of the supporters of this blog.