Since my ‘Vacancy: Dyslexics need only apply‘ blog, I was feeling rather frustrated. Why?
It’s all very well me suggesting that employers should recruit staff who have dyslexic superpowers and can show ‘evidence of overcoming the challenges of dyslexia‘, but that’s only half the solution. Surely the key to success is developing programmes that support the learning differences experienced by dyslexics and to enable the further development of big picture thinking. In the context of the higher education sector, let’s look at each in turn.
- Supporting: Universities recognise that some of their students could have learning difficulties, often called Students with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs). Indeed, many have invested time and resources in supporting these students. Typically, through their Disability Service – just follow the links from my list of university support for dyslexic students to see how dyslexia is positioned as a disability and dysfunction. So, step one to enlightenment must be to focus on dyslexia as a learning difference and reposition support as continue professional development (CPD) for the enhancement of existing abilities. Remember, the goal is to develop superpowers in academic and professional staff!
- Enabling: Having repositioned support as CPD and, hopefully, engaged with dyslexic academic and professional staff [I will deal with this challenge in a future blog], it’s time to think about developing the superpower of big picture thinking. I’m sure that once dyslexics have switched from thinking about their dyslexia as a disability to a difference, they will already becoming aware of there enhanced abilities to see patterns, objects and shapes and ready to rethink there own educational and work experiences. The challenge of this repositioning shouldn’t be underestimated. Remember, many dyslexics will have felt labelled and excluded by an educational system that rewards fine detail thinking.
Perhaps we [the higher education sector] need to establish a Developing Your Superpower Institute (DYS Institute), which delivers this outcome. Of course, it would quickly become known as the disinstitute – which, at least for me, has a certain comic irony!
Of course, Dyslexia Advantage is focused on all dyslexics not juts those in the higher education sector. Time for some big picture thinking …