Reads, spells and guesses: The Dyslexic “Eats, shoots and leaves”? (12/52)

Before addressing the title of this blog, I wanted to update last week’s blog on “Stimulating Big Picture Thinking”, setting out the approach to designing and delivering the workshop to stimulate entrepreneurial thinking in environmental doctoral students. So, after all the hype, what was the students’ feedback?

Based on a simple Likert-type scale: 1 excellent, 2 average, 3 poor, the facilitators (myself and two colleagues) received a flawless score and only dropped one point for “How satisfied are you with the outcomes of the programme?” (Meaning: increased confidence, bringing together science and entrepreneurship and meeting like-minded people) – that’s a relief!

Qualitative feedback included: “Excellent! It has really got me thinking about the skills I have and how I could use these in my career going forwards.” “Interesting, challenging and fun.” “A tiring, but stimulating few days, that was led by some really helpful and enthusiastic individuals.” “Overall it was an enjoyable course, really varied and applied to a variety of challenges. Made it easier to see how scientific knowledge could be applied to a business …” “It was worthwhile and enlightening.” “Enjoyable, inclusive, and well delivered.” “Intense and stressful, but highly rewarding. Don’t change any of the organisers, they each brought something different to the challenges they set.”

Now back to the “Reads, spells and guesses: The Dyslexic ‘Eats, shoots and leaves’”.

I was recently asked about the practicalities of learning grammar as a dyslexic and was immediately struck by my lack of grammatical knowledge. At school, I was so far behind my reading age (I remember when I was tested for dyslexia aged 19, my reading age was in single digits – an assessment I have conveniently buried for 35 years!), I couldn’t possibly engage in learning grammar. Compulsory French classes until I was 14 years old, served only to compound my grammatical confusion. As an adult learner, I have even had Spanish lessons, in both the UK and Spain, with limited success – plenty of scope for a future blog there!

On reflection, I realised I needed to go back to grammar school (no, not Grammar School!) to start all over again. A timely meeting with one of my children (an English Teacher at a Secondary School in London), resulted in a trip to a big Waterstones and the purchase of “Grammar Rules: Writing with Military Precision” by Craig Shrives. We had so many books, in the ‘English Language’ and ‘Learning English’ sections, to choose from but decided on Shrives (2011) because it was accessible, at least to me, and it had a sense of humour whilst still taking the subject very seriously. Craig also maintains a very helpful web site – www.grammar-monster.com. You will no doubt have spotted the extensive use of: apostrophes, brackets, colons, commas, dashes, hyphens, semicolons and speech marks; or to be more precise – Section 1!

Given more self-study time, I think I will be able to learn grammar rules as a dyslexic academic. At the very least this new competence might be useful for my blogs.

Next week could see the first guest blog – from a fellow dyslexic academic. Perhaps this will be more than appropriate, given I will be a quarter of the way towards achieving my goal of posting 52 blogs this year. I continue to be pleasantly surprised by contact from dyslexics in academia, which have resulted from my decision to disclose my dyslexia. Should I consider establishing a invitation-only LinkedIn group or inviting guest blogs from dyslexic academics?

Nigel Lockett – The Dyslexic Professor
University dyslexia support