19 August 2018

Showing local youngsters around the music studio at UKFast - Lawrence Jones MBE discusses being dyslexic, music and sport.

Showing local youngsters around the music studio at UKFast – Lawrence Jones MBE discusses being dyslexic, music and sport.

Earlier this week I wrote about exam results and about how those letters on a page don’t define you. Within that post, I failed to mention another issue with letters on a page: dyslexia.

I am dyslexic. However, a few decades ago when I was at school, this wasn’t an accepted thing; no one really knew what dyslexia meant. I was just the kid that didn’t read or write particularly well. I was the disruptive young man who wasn’t inspired by the classroom because it didn’t spark my interest and it was difficult to stay focussed.

My gift was in music, sport, art and creativity. I was always making music, especially at chorister school. Standing proud, dressed up to the nines, singing my heart out in the heart of Durham Cathedral, I learned so much more than from textbooks and chalkboard lessons.

Later, that passion turned to the rugby pitch where I smashed records and loved every moment. I was a different person on the field; leading the team, smashing goals and thriving.

Passion is key

It is those opportunities outside of traditional education that made me who I am. Sport teaches us so many incredible lessons that stand us in great stead for our futures. Team work, resilience, tenacity and leadership to name a few.

Yet, all too often, sporty kids are almost written off and children who are academically successful are praised beyond all else. The ultimate goal is still to get to university. Yet, I would argue that this isn’t always the best way to build a successful career in the wider world. Pushing people toward university when they aren’t passionate about their studies is a huge mistake and massive waste of both time and money.

Apprenticeships are a huge opportunity for building a career straight out of school; combining studies with on-the-job learning is invaluable.

We’ve long championed the need for encouraging children of all abilities and talents in education. Unfortunately, schools and teachers are measured on exam results rather than holistic outcomes. That’s missing a huge chunk of young people’s potential; you can’t measure young people’s worth on a handful of questions set in an incredibly pressured situation. Yet unfortunately, at the moment, that’s what it comes down to.

It’s one of the reasons that we don’t really take CVs into account when recruiting at UKFast. The most important thing? Attitude. If you’re willing to learn, to work hard and support others, you’re the kind of person we’re looking for, regardless of exam results or university degree.

Schools need to recognise this and build young people’s self-worth from the earliest of years, especially those who struggle with reading and writing.

40% of self-made entrepreneurs are dyslexic

Whilst I would have said in the past that being dyslexic shouldn’t define you, now I realise that phrase makes it sound like a real negative. In fact, there are incredible qualities that come to the fore because your brain is wired a little more differently. Did you know that 40% of self-made entrepreneurs are dyslexic? Richard Branson, Jo Malone, Steve Jobs are just a few examples. Perhaps it’s because we have to work that bit harder during our formative years at school because the skills to thrive there simply don’t come easily to us.

Either way, these differences are summed up in a great article I was sent by Trish of Tech Manchester recently. The article describes how dyslexic brains are creative, empathetic and resilient – we’re wired differently and that’s no bad thing.

Everyone has their own superpower, whether that’s being an incredible learner, an extraordinary sportsperson, a creative or something else. We just have to be open to recognising everyone’s gift and nurturing it.

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