As an undiagnosed dyslexic in school through the 70s, life was pretty tough. No one had even heard of dyslexia let alone develop effective learning strategies. For me that meant years of underachievement and ridicule from teachers (some very well meaning) and friends who were as ignorant as everyone else. I still don’t like to think of that 8 year old me, starting at boarding school and sitting in Mrs W’s English class …
Throughout my schooling I lived in fear of being asked to read aloud in class. I followed the trail of doom as it snaked around my classmates, getting ever nearer. Desperate attempts to read ahead to the most likely sentence to land on me, was no preparation – it just made things worse. As I stood, eyes going out of focus, words dancing on the page, the first sentence hardly uttered before the laughing started!
Even today, I can’t read out from the printed page. And yet … I can deliver top class lectures on entrepreneurship (try spelling that without MSWord spelling or ClaroRead!). My last Advanced Entrepreneurship class scored 100% (Strongly agree/Agree) across all measures – even ‘Feedback’! ‘Teacher was enthusiastic’ getting 100% Strongly agree. I was genuinely moved by the comments in the student evaluations:
- Nigel was the absolute best lecturer, everything he taught us was interesting and relevant.
- Nigel was by far the best lecturer I’ve ever had. Every topic he chose was extremely interesting and he was able to fully engage the entire class, which is highly commendable seeing as it was a two hour lecture starting at nine in the morning.
- Nigel is so enthusiastic and I actually listen and learn.
- Nigel made lectures fun and engaging every week, bringing in real world examples from his business network.
- Nigel was very enthusiastic and it was very refreshing being taught a module by someone with first-hand experience in the field he was teaching. This module, was by far the best module I have ever undertaken in the entirety of my time [at university].
Has this anything to do with being dyslexic?
And the journey to the top of leading business schools (University of Leeds and Lancaster University) requires a written PhD. I, and probably everyone else around me, could simply never have imagined that 8 year old, so fearful of the written word, becoming a serial entrepreneur, community leader and professor. But that is another story …