Relax, I don’t mean the Boris Brexit Bus or the Trump inauguration ‘alternative facts’ war of words. I mean the internal dialogue dyslexics hear – the challenge of all those words to process. Of course, I have chosen a profession [academia] which is actually located in a temple of words [university]!
To give you some idea of what this means in practice, I thought the last couple of weeks might give you a sense of my personal dyslexia challenge. Here goes:
- In 2009, I was fortunate to be invited by Dr Richard Blundel, at the Open University, to co-author an exciting new textbook ‘Exploring Entrepreneurship‘. Published in 2011, it was well received by peers and adopted for many entrepreneurship modules. Of course, I would say this, it is a thoughtful contribution to the subject – a book of two integrated halves (practice and perspectives) with some innovative pedagogical features such as critical incident teaching cases and leading researcher profiles. My contribution was mainly the practice first half. It literally took 6 months of weekends to complete. Don’t ever ask my family about the book! The last couple of weeks have been dominated by finishing the copy for the second edition due to be launched by Sage Publications at the ISBE conference in Belfast this November. The second edition will include a third author – Professor Catherine Wang at Brunel University and video cases of entrepreneurs who describe a real business challenge and then reveal what actually happened. My copy was submitted for typesetting last week.
- Since 2014, I have been leading a collaborative three country investigation involving universities in Spain, Sweden and the UK, which is exploring the role of universities in supporting entrepreneurial students and graduates. The first publication has just been accepted by the Industry and Higher Education journal. Proofing the article, ‘Lost in space’: The role of social networking in university-based entrepreneurial learning, was completed on Monday.
- After three intensive years, a very able PhD student submitted their final thesis for Viva Examintion entitled, The perceptions of the relationship with venture capitalists by managers of university spin-out firms in the life science industry in the UK and Germany.
- Last Monday saw the publication of the HM Government Building our Industrial Strategy Green Paper. This could represent a significant opportunity for universities to help address the productivity dilemma, which has seen UK productivity remain stagnant after the financial crisis in direct contrast to previous recessions and other developed economies. As Associate Dean for Engagement, I needed to read, digest, debate and respond with appropriate recommendations.
Of course, the above is added to the usual wordy [written] duties of responding to emails, reading documents, preparing presentations, moderating assignments and back-to-back meetings.
I am certainly not complaining as this is how you get things done in a modern university. However, it might give you an insight to my personal challenge of the war of words or at times what feels more like a wall of words!
Luckily for me, I don’t have to face this alone. As I explained in the Dyslexia Drag Race, the single most useful dyslexia software tool for me is ClaroRead for Mac. I simply could not handle this huge volume of words without it.
I do appreciate that a non-dyslexic academic might point out that this is simply normal and begs the question, Why is this such a challenge?
The simplest reply is … time!
It just takes me more mental time and energy to process words. Imagine if at aged sixteen you knew what the word doubt meant and could use it readily in conversation. However, if asked to spell the word doubt, either to recite it or write it, you could not ‘see’ or imagine the word beyond the d. Now concentrating hard, you get to d…ow, then dow…t. But life isn’t that easy for a dyslexic – you aren’t certain of your ability and have your own doubts! Dow look’s like bow, is this bow to an audience or bow and arrow? In addition, as soon as you realise the environment is hostile, your reply is expected instantly, other people are watching … How could an increasingly doubting dyslexic get anywhere near ou or even bt?
Of course, doubt is just one word!
Some words are just simply more difficult for dyslexics than others. No doubt, each of us will have our own set of desperately difficult words. Difficult words are challenging in two ways. Firstly, hearing and spelling and secondly, reading and pronunciation. Two sides of the same coin.