Of course, I couldn’t let the 14th February pass without reflecting on my “love hate” relationship with my dyslexia. Well, I say, “love hate” but what I increasingly feel is a love relationship with my Dyslexia Valentine!
Many will know the footprints in the sand poem in which the traveller experiences hardship and on looking back sees particularly hard periods in their life when there is only one pair of footprints in the sand; turns to their ‘companion’ and says, “Why did you abandon me during my most difficult times?”; The gentle reply comes, “Those were the times I carried you”!
And so it is with my dyslexia. I can now look back and freely acknowledge that what I first saw as a disability, I became aware of as a difference and now increasingly see as an advantage (or superpower!).
Working in the higher education sector in the UK is particularly challenging at the moment with academic and professional staff being expected to deliver simultaneously across multiple areas: engagement, research and teaching. My Valentine’s week serves as a good example of this diversity:
Monday: Early start with a morning of back-to-back meetings spanning engagement, research and teaching. No lunch break as straight into leading a four-hour entrepreneurship workshop with our excellent MBA students until 6pm. Late home.
Tuesday: Off-site strategy session considering our response to the Apprenticeship Levy. This has the potential to transform undergraduate and postgraduate education in the UK. I’m particularly interested in Level 7 (masters) provision for middle managers and entrepreneurs. We have a lot to offer but packaging this will be a challenge. Late afternoon an internal mock panel interview for a major research bid we have been shortlisted for interview. Very exciting but a big challenge. By the end of the day, my head is full of opportunities and threats!
Wednesday: Another full day away from the university. This time with Lancashire Leaders: firstly at a small panel event which will provide the material for a magazine feature and than the annual dinner and networking event – including a chance to talk with a key stakeholder. A long day and evening. Home at midnight. Only Wednesday and I’m probably well passed the European Working Time Directive already!
Thursday: At the university early for a full day of back-to-back meetings spanning engagement, research and teaching. End the day with my head spinning with opportunities and threats.
Friday: TGIF! A full day without any meetings. Just my laptop and ClaroRead to help me to plough through the rather full inbox. Why does every email seem to require a considered reply? By the end of the day, there are still emails to answer but I’ve peaked and agreed with myself that Sunday afternoon looks clear for this.
Saturday: Happy Days
Sunday: Morning starts with the train to London to meet colleagues in the evening to prepare for Monday’s “major research bid” panel interview. More to follow on this but only if we are successful! Used train journey down to reply to emails but not until I had upgraded, at my own expense, to 1st class to get a table, wifi and some quiet.
My working week ends mid-evening and I can’t be bothered to add up all the hours! Looking back, I can see the ‘footprints in the sand’ where my dyslexia has carried me through the challenges of my working week.
Yes, my Dyslexia Valentine is definitely a superpower for me!