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September 29th 2017

Think of other solutions and think smartly

As part of Dyslexia Awareness Week (2-8 October 2017), Mr Jordan, Physics Teacher, talks about his experience of dyslexia.

When did you first discover that you were dyslexic?

I was 13 and was told by an educational psychologist at school. I had always wondered why my Maths ability was much greater than my English. Back then, nobody knew what dyslexia was. The wheel had just been invented.

How did your family react?

My Mum told me “there’s nothing the matter with you – you’re not dyslexic”. At that time, there was no understanding of dyslexia. I think she blamed herself that she hadn’t read enough to me as a child. My sister, who is also a teacher is dyslexic.

How did your dyslexia affect you at school?

I found reading and writing difficult, in particular reading any type of question. I misunderstood questions which I was asked. However, I loved school.

I hated reading in front of the class. I am reminded of the funny line out of Porridge: “I read a book once. Green it was”. The three most influential books which I have read back to front are the Bible, an A-level Physics book by Nelkon & Parker and ‘The Centurion’.

What support were you given?

I was given educational support from the age of 10, but it wasn’t effective because it wasn’t tailored to my dyslexia and I was given the same strategies as the non-able group. I wasn’t given any solutions or tips either to help me with my dyslexia.

What does dyslexia mean to you?

It means the ability to think slightly differently from everyone else. I think slightly ‘out of the box’ and take a different route when thinking about problems. I have a slightly strange take on problem-solving, but I usually get the right answer and in a shorter space of time!

The ability to explain things differently is one of the reasons why I became a teacher - I love being a teacher.

What advice would you give teachers to support dyslexic students?

When asking a question, give dyslexic students enough time to ask themselves the question so that they can put it in their own ‘speak’. Don’t ask a dyslexic student to read aloud unless they volunteer.

What advice would you give to dyslexic students?

Being dyslexic isn’t an excuse not to work hard. You have to work harder to overcome the hurdles our examination system puts in place.  Remember the world of work doesn’t give you an extra 25% of time, you need to be organised and make sure you meet your deadlines. You shouldn’t see yourself as a victim although it can be a struggle at school. Instead, think of other solutions and think smartly.

What advice would you give to your younger self at school?

Pick up a comic book and read it!

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