Quite rightly, we now have numerous ‘awareness weeks’, with our very own Dyslexia Awareness Week in October, which celebrate ‘good causes’. However, at least in the case of dyslexia, we have other weeks in the year which are particularly significant.
In fact, I would argue that for people with dyslexia in the UK, it’s a particular fortnight each August – the two sequential weeks that start with A-level results and ends, the following week, with GSCE results day. Of course, there are other exam results days but these are big two and attract all the media attention – such as:
So, why are these important and how are they linked to dyslexia? (or the Dyslexia Nightmare Fortnight!)
You may recall that myself and guest bloggers commented on the experience of compulsory`education in emotional terms: failure or labelled stupid (The Dyslexic Professor, Vincent Walsh). For most of us this sense of failure is personified by GSCE, and if we got that far, A-level results days.
Leah Jacobs, a 31 year old undiagnosed dyslexic, puts it simply – “I felt like the world was telling me that I was stupid” in the Guardian’s “A-level students whose results were a lesson in life”
I think it has something to do with the public nature of it all – the list of results posted on the noticeboard, the envelope distributed in the school hall or text which you are expected to share. For those who have been recognised as dyslexic and had extra tutoring or support it might be mitigated but for the undiagnosed dyslexic there is no lifeline – the storm of unmet expectations that turn a glorious extended summer holiday into a nightmare fortnight. The pressure to respond pragmatically to this underachievement is overwhelming and leads to rushed decisions, make with all good intent, to change well made plans: “Don’t worry there’s always Clearing” or “Never mind you can go to college and resit”
But behind it all sits ‘failure’. One could also argue that this has been exacerbated by the recent changes to single point exams for both GSCEs and A-levels, which increase the pressure on students with dyslexia which results forced underperformance. Just another example for rewarding fine detailed thinking above big picture thinking.
See 0:23 “Dyslexia, Learning Differently, and Innovation”
Time to start a movement to reposition dyslexia as a superpower …
But where to start?