My Dyslexia Valentine (9/52)

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!

Nigel Lockett – The Dyslexic Professor
University dyslexia support

Developing Your [Dyslexic] Superpower Institute (8/52)

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!

Dyslexic Advantage, formed in 2012 after the publication of Brock and Fernette Eide’s The Dyslexic Advantage book, is the nearest organisation I can find to the idea of the DYS Institute.

Of course, Dyslexia Advantage is focused on all dyslexics not juts those in the higher education sector. Time for some big picture thinking …

Nigel Lockett – The Dyslexic Professor
University dyslexia support

Dyslexic War of Words (7/52)

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.

Nigel Lockett – The Dyslexic Professor
University dyslexia support

 

Vacancy: Dyslexics need only apply (6/52)

Of course, I’m not suggesting there are jobs that only dyslexics can do. But, just imagine if employers valued the enhanced abilities that dyslexia can provide – or the ‘dyslexia superpowers‘ (See 3/5).

I have applied for a few senior positions in my time and have been faced with completing the anonymous ‘Equal Opportunities Form’. Each time, I think, “Do I have a disability?“, “Should I declare it?“, “What would be the consequences?“, “Is it really confidential?” …

It’s hard to pick up a newspaper [or read your favourite title on the proprietary app] and not read about the latest big challenge faced by a big organisation. See below a few examples from this week’s press coverage:

Clearly, these are big complex problems with multiple stakeholders and both political and financial implications. Oh, and probably full of big data.

So, if you run one of these organisations, Who you gonna call?

No, not Ghostbusters!

But, perhaps a group of people with specially honed big picture thinking [yes, you know where I’m going!] (See 5/52). But, you recruit your top talent from top graduates from top universities; who have in turn recruited top students with top A-levels; most likely achieved by students with an enhanced ability for fine detail thinking. Really you need both big picture thinking and fine detail thinking to crack these really big problems.

Perhaps this is at the heart of the matter. We have designed an educational system that rewards fine detail thinking and labels the very people with enhanced big picture thinking as dysfunctional.

As a society, we often look to government and politicians for solutions. But, how many successful applicants to Fast Stream or MPs are dyslexic?

Why not take matters into your own hands?

Who will be the first large organisation to include, ‘Evidence of overcoming the challenges of dyslexia‘ under desirable selection criteria?

Nigel Lockett – The Dyslexic Professor
University dyslexia support

The Dyslexic Brain: Words, words, everywhere (5/52)

I can’t stop smiling as I start this blog on the Dyslexic Brain. I will return to this important subject in a moment – I’m smiling because I have just remembered a former business bank manager [Brian] saying, in all earnest, ‘Nigel, I do appreciate getting your monthly financial updates but please would you stop writing to me as, Dear Brain!’

Words, words, everywhere but not a sentence to read! [Apologies to Samuel Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – ‘Water, water everywhere, Nor any drop to drink’!]. I merely use it to highlight the challenge that dyslexics face in our word-rich world. Of course, this blog is just a drop in the ocean in the sea of research on dyslexia.

Recent research on how the brain’s cortex, more especially the structure of minicolumns (dense versus loose) and axons (short versus long), impacts on connections, suggests that dyslexia is not a dysfunction but a difference. Of course, I rather like this idea and recognise this might just be because it supports my worldview, expressed in my first blog (0/52), that dyslexia is a learning difference. In this blog, I am drawing mainly on The Dyslexic Advantage (book) by Eide and Eide, 2012 and Dyslexia and the Brain (video) by Eden, 2016.

So, why would cortex structure (short-dense and long-loose) effect connections and why is this relevant to dyslexia?

One of the key differences (or in Eide and Eide’s words advantages or in my words superpowers) for dyslexics is the ability to see patterns or the wood for the trees or the big picture (Watch 7:30 Eden video). This big picture thinking is function of a cortex structure – more precisely long axons and loose minicolumns  (long-loose) which slows down processing. The opposite is short axons and dense minicolumns and  (short-dense) which speeds up processing and supports fine detail thinking. This produces a fascinating spectrum from slow (big picture thinking) to fast (fine detail thinking), which maps onto dyslexia (big picture thinking) and autism (fine detail thinking).

Importantly, learning to read (a function of phonological processing and procedural processing in the left brain) is enhanced by fine detail thinking. This might also go some way to explain the challenge words cause dyslexics.

The implications for dyslexics are firstly, dyslexia is a difference not a dysfunction and secondly, as I know from my own experience, adult dyslexics can improve their word processing power [I will come back to how in a future blog but in the meantime watch 7:58 Eden video] to a mostly adequate level without losing their big picture thinking!

Nigel Lockett – The Dyslexic Professor
University dyslexia support

Dyslexic Glass Ceiling? (4/52)

Many of us will be aware of the Glass Ceiling or the artificial barriers to the advancement of minority men and women into management and decision making positions. But could it also apply to dyslexics?

Not so much a glass ceiling as a word ceiling.

Of course, I can only refer to my own experience as a manager, entrepreneur, community leader and academic [The Dyslexic Professor no less!). But, in each role there came a moment when my dyslexia did indeed become a barrier. I’m not looking to blame anyone or any organisation and recognise I have constructed some artificial barriers of my own. However, I am looking to highlight the real challenges faced by dyslexics in every day life – more particularly, every day living in environments full of words!

I will illustrate this point with two examples. The first being more painful to recall than the second.

Firstly, I have been involved in many community projects from fundraising garden parties to chairing a medium sized charity through a change in Chief Executive [Foundation] and from helping set-up an organic food social enterprise [Growing with Grace] to chairing the governing body of a primary school and even President of my professional body [Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship]. Of course, I am constantly scanning my environment for threats that might expose me as a dyslexic but occasionally even I have dropped my guard.

It is good practice to involve parents and carers, in appropriate ways, to support young children’s learning in primary schools. This can range from after school clubs to individual support. What could be more natural for a teacher to ask the Chair of Governors to join the rota of one-to-one reading support for Year 1 and 2 children (5 to 7 year olds). Of course, I had a BSc, MSc and even a PhD – so, without thinking, I accepted.

The day duly came and I chose a suitable book from my own children’s collection and read it through several times to myself. Just as I was leaving to walk to the school, my wife kindly offered to hear me read the book aloud. Even I was surprised by the reality. As soon as I started to readout I made a simple error which I heard as a whisper in my head and then a roar as it was gentley pointed out. In an instant, I was teleported to standing in a classroom with “eyes going out of focus, words dancing on the page“! [Definitely my dyslexic Achilles’ heel] I completely lost my confidence and accepted the offer to be substituted at very short notice.

Secondly, now in my fourth career, as an academic (previously and concurrently as manager, entrepreneur and community leader), I am now enjoying being a Professor of Entrepreneurship and an Associate Dean at a leading business school. I was recently asked by a University Vice-Chancellor [I hasten to add, not my own] – What are your career ambitions? In an instant, I knew the answer was not, the very top of academia or even nearly the very top! I decided to disclose my dyslexia and listed the things I couldn’t do and that would make it difficult to carry out the full range of duties expected of a leader in modern academia.

Reflecting honestly on this conversation, I think there were in fact three specific things – two related to my dyslexia and one completely different.

  • Names – Peoples names are difficult for me and new names in particular. This might seem very strange but working in a leading national and global university constantly brings me into contact with new people and more challengingly, new names. It just takes me longer to associate a familiar name to a new face and an embarrassingly long time to associate a new name to a new face and even longer to pronounce it with confidence. And there is one important event that takes place at least twice a year … graduation. The role of the Head of School (or Faculty) is to call (read out loud) the names of the graduates. Many times I have sat on the stage smiling as my students graduate and every time thought, I just couldn’t do that.
  • Speeches – I have become more comfortable speaking in public. Helped by years of leadership roles which necessitated it and hours of classroom teaching. But I still remain fearful of making speeches. Of course, I’m referring to written speeches that senior leaders need to deliver as a normal part of their job. For very senior leaders these will have been drafted by someone else. I am always moved when I watch The King’s Speech, even through it is not directly related to dyslexia Again, I have watch many people deliver good speeches and every time thought, I just couldn’t do that.
  • Admiration – Now, this might be the main reason! I have been fortunate to work a universities with strong and committed leadership teams. I see the long hours and the sacrifices made by these high performing individuals. Of course, I do appreciate for readers not familiar with the environment of a modern university this might seem strange. But, believe me when I say, we are fortunate to have some the world’s best universities in the UK and you simply don’t become the best through poor leadership. Universities contribute many things to our society.

So, there might be a Dyslexia Ceiling but, at least for me, there might just be a few other factors involved. Interestingly, Catherine Brennan, a distinguished Professor of Biology and Chemistry at MIT, doesn’t agree, “There is no a dyslexia ceiling, doesn’t exist, unless you create it in your own mind“. Watch 17:01 into her Dyslexia Advantage talk.

Nigel Lockett – The Dyslexic Professor
University dyslexia support

Time to see Dyslexia as a Superpower? (3/52)

Happy New Year! By posting this third blog on dyslexia, I already feel 2017 is getting off to a good start …

We are all familiar with the Marvel Comic superheroes (Dr Strange, Captain Marvel, Black Widow and Spiderman, to name but a few) – each with their own superpower. I wonder if it’s time to rethink our view of dyslexia and focus less on what dyslexic people can’t do and more on what they can do. Yes, I am actually suggesting that we consider dyslexia as a superpower!

In a future blog [probably entitled the ‘Dyslexic Safari’], I will consider whether dyslexia is why the human species has prospered. Anyway back to mere superpowers. In my experience, I have noticed dyslexics appear to be able to deal with complexity. In fact, not just complexity but dynamic complexity – where a myriad of events move with abnormal pace.

This ability seems to comprise three capabilities particularly prevalent in dyslexics: i) seeing patterns, ii) seeing objects and iii) seeing shapes. Combining these capabilities with calmness [I will comeback to that in the future] and you have, in my view, a dyslexic superpower!

I have noticed these capabilities in myself and other dyslexics. The easiest way to explain these is through examples:

      1. Patterns. This is all about being able to see the wood for the trees or the big picture. Nowhere is this more true than with complex business information systems. I once received an early Sunday morning call from a friend whose multimillion pound distribution company had switched to a new computer system and despite the best efforts of the project team could not get customers orders picked and dispatched. After just 4 days the situation had reached crisis point – no orders dispatched equals no company! “Would I mind looking into the problem?” In fairness, I wasn’t going in cold – I had implemented several stock handling information systems in my time. I spent 30 minutes walking around the office and warehouse talking to members of the project team, warehouse staff and the system provider. Using the wood for the trees analogy, there appeared to be two trees that needed felling to get orders moving through the system … i) electronically transferring all stock from deep storage to the picking faces and ii) changing a parameter which allowed for negative allocated stock. This did the trick and 100s of orders appeared on the handheld devices … we were back in business!
      2. Objects. In an increasingly complex digital world where the amount of information we have to deal with is growing exponentially, we gladly turn to objects or things which help us navigate. Two examples readily spring to mind – firstly, Google Web Search (launched internationally in 2000) and secondly, the Apple iPod Classic (launched in 2001). They both provided a simple interface to information – the former through a webpage and the latter a wheel. With the iPod, Steve Job designed a physical object which set a course which brought us the iPhone and iPad. Impressed? Have you ever seen a 3 year old child pick up an iPad and within seconds starting to access their favourite apps? Steve Jobs was dyslexic.
      3. Shapes. Imagine walking in the mountains, and on returning home, being able to recall and describe the terrain of your whole journey. This ability to see in 3D is exceptional and provides opportunities for a host of applications. Many people can use a map and compas to navigate on a walk but can’t simply look at an OS map and convert it into 3D shapes in their mind. Can you imagine how useful this ability would be for an architect or builder?  Richard Rodgers, brought us the Pompidou Centre, Millennium Dome and European Court of Human Rights building, is dyslexic.

Which organisations wouldn’t want to recruit staff with these superpowers?

The age of the dyslexic is here!

Nigel Lockett – The Dyslexic Professor
University dyslexia support

 

 

 

Dyslexia Drag Race (2/52)

You will see from my review of ClaroRead below that I rely heavily on software to help me in my everyday work – particularly for emails.  Recently, I have been experimenting with dictation software for longer emails and reports.

I decided the best way to test the usefulness of dictation software was to setup a dictation drag race between two leading contestants:

Contestant One: Apple Dictation (macOX Sierra v10.12.2)  built-in tool – which is free.

[You can activate the Dictation tool from the Apple icon [top left] go to ‘System Preferences’, click on the ‘Keyboard’ icon and within this click on the ‘Dictation tab’ and, finally, tick ‘Dictation’ as ‘On’. To use in any text box press ‘fn’ [bottom left] key twice [this is configurable] and then press ‘fn’ key twice to hide].

Contestant Two: Nuance Dragon (Professional Individual for Mac v6.0.4), which is probably the best known dictation software you can buy.

So, the  challenge was 400 words from a long email to a colleague. Starting with Nuance Dragon [“Contestant Dragon [David], on my first whistle“], I read out from a printed page … 4 minutes and 56 seconds later 400 words have been dictated into a document with only 5 mistakes – all of which were understandable and easy to correct. I used the ClaroRead to ‘Text to Speech’ function to quickly check through the document. Not a bad achievement and probably three or four times quicker than typing with ClaroRead.

Now for Apple Dictation using exactly the same email … 4 minutes and 59 seconds later 400 words have been dictated into a document but sadly this time with over 30 mistakes. Most of these were ‘normal’ words. I used Apple ‘Text to Speech’ [again free] tool to check through the document.

[You can activate the ‘Text to Speech’ tool from the Apple icon [top left] go to ‘System Preferences’, click on the ‘Accessibility’ icon, then ‘Speech’ and tick ‘Speak selected text when the key is pressed. You can configure ‘Current key’ by clicking ‘Change Key’].

I started to correct the document and quickly realised how time consuming this was. So, even though the drag race was fairly even with Nuance Dragon crossing the line only 3 seconds ahead of Apple Dictation, the time to do the corrections made Dragon the clear winner for longer documents for me.

However, since carrying out this very unscientific test, I have found Apple Dictation particularly helpful whilst doing short emails. It is so easy to press ‘fn’ twice in the middle of typing to help me complete a long sentence or to find a difficult word [I will come back to ‘difficult words’ in another blog]. So, not quite ‘honours are even’, but pretty close.

And finally, I do find that even though my version of Dragon is up-to-date, it regularly crashes. Not great for a drag racer! But, at least for me, not a huge problem only an inconvenience as I work in Word for Mac rather than DragonPad.

Happy racing!

ClaroRead Software Review

For me, the single most useful dyslexia software tool is ClaroRead for Mac. I literally use it everyday and for every email, letter or report I write. It has more features than I need but the two most useful features for me are:

Reading out as I type each word and then reading out highlighted text. This is a must have feature and I can’t think of any improvements to this function.

Word prediction is a heavy weight tool which offers you a drop down list of words as you are typing. I’ve set my colour scheme (soft yellow on dark blue), for the list to be sorted by likelihood (rather than alphabetical) and to show ignored words and next word [Go to ‘Settings’ > ‘Predict’ > ‘Window’].

I prefer to use the ClaroRead training feature rather than automatically adding correctly spelt words. The latter slows the application down to the point it interfers with my typing. Yes, I’m now really that fast! To be honest I’m still pretty slow but my correspondence are of a better quality. This means fewer spelling mistakes, homophones and bigger words (like correspondence!). The package comes with additional features I don’t use: ruler, capture and colour screen overlays.

The one improvement for me would be the option to have the prediction window track with the cursor (just to the right would be perfect). I’m sure I’ve seen this feature on Window-based software like – Penfriend and Read&Write – I see there is now a Mac version.

I have just bought an iPad Pro and downloaded the ClaroSpeak App. Give me a couple of months and I will write a review.

PS How could I not mention the power of MSWord (or other word processors) and built-in spelling and grammar checks. My adult life spans the Sinclair ZX Spectrum to the MacBook Pro – probably the real revolution at your finger tips for dyslexics.

My ClaroRead’s word reduction window:

Nigel Lockett – The Dyslexic Professor
University dyslexia support

 

Who would ever have thought it? (1/52)

As an undiagnosed dyslexic in school through the 70s, life was pretty tough. No one had even heard of dyslexia let alone develop effective learning strategies. For me that meant years of underachievement and ridicule from teachers (some very well meaning) and friends who were as ignorant as everyone else. I still don’t like to think of that 8 year old me, starting at boarding school and sitting in Mrs W’s English class …

Throughout my schooling I lived in fear of being asked to read aloud in class. I followed the trail of doom as it snaked around my classmates, getting ever nearer. Desperate attempts to read ahead to the most likely sentence to land on me, was no preparation – it just made things worse. As I stood, eyes going out of focus, words dancing on the page, the first sentence hardly uttered before the laughing started!

Even today, I can’t read out from the printed page. And yet … I can deliver top class lectures on entrepreneurship (try spelling that without MSWord spelling or ClaroRead!). My last Advanced Entrepreneurship class scored 100% (Strongly agree/Agree) across all measures – even ‘Feedback’! ‘Teacher was enthusiastic’ getting 100% Strongly agree. I was genuinely moved by the comments in the student evaluations:

  • Nigel was the absolute best lecturer, everything he taught us was interesting and relevant.
  • Nigel was by far the best lecturer I’ve ever had. Every topic he chose was extremely interesting and he was able to fully engage the entire class, which is highly commendable seeing as it was a two hour lecture starting at nine in the morning.
  • Nigel is so enthusiastic and I actually listen and learn.
  • Nigel made lectures fun and engaging every week, bringing in real world examples from his business network.
  • Nigel was very enthusiastic and it was very refreshing being taught a module by someone with first-hand experience in the field he was teaching. This module, was by far the best module I have ever undertaken in the entirety of my time [at university].

Has this anything to do with being dyslexic?

And the journey to the top of leading business schools (University of Leeds and Lancaster University) requires a written PhD. I, and probably everyone else around me, could simply never have imagined that 8 year old, so fearful of the written word,  becoming a serial entrepreneur, community leader and professor. But that is another story

Nigel Lockett – The Dyslexic Professor
University dyslexia support

The Dyslexic Professor (0/52)

Yes, I do mean ‘dyslexic professor’ not ‘dyslexia professor’ or ‘Professor of Dyslexia’.

By my 19th birthday, I had failed all my A-levels and couldn’t see a positive future – school had been a nightmare. Fortunately, I had two things going in my favour …

Firstly, I had passed by motorcycling test! 

Secondly, after failing my English GSCE (then called O-levels) twice with Fs, an experienced out-of-school English tutor recognised I had learning difficulties and recommended I went to one of the few specialist testing centres at Aston University.

After what seemed like a strange set of questions and tests (including the dreaded reading aloud), I was told I had a very high IQ and dyslexia. The former was a pleasant surprise and confirmed I wasn’t “stupid” and the latter both a new word to me and unspellable to boot!

There then followed 35 years of struggles, achievements and more struggles as I came to realise that dyslexia was not a learning difficulty but a learning difference.

This learning difference has shaped me into the person I am today … The Dyslexic Professor!

Could some of the coping strategies learnt in hostile environments actually be an advantage?

Watch 5:15 into this Ted Talk by Regina Hartley.

Why is 2017 the year I go public?

i) To highlight to anyone with dyslexia that you can quite literally achieve anything you set your mind on (regardless of what some teachers and peers say), ii) to start to compile useful links to University support for dyslexic students, iii) share ‘top tips’ gained from my own experience and iv) provide links to useful resources.

My 2017 New Year’s resolution is to write a weekly blog related to my experiences as a dyslexic academic.

A new journey for me begins with this blog …

Nigel LockettThe Dyslexic Professor
University dyslexia support