Categories
Learning

No-one Puts Jacqui in the Corner!

This is a guest post. Recently, I spoke with a friend about her dyslexia and the impact it has had on her. I encouraged her to write about it, and she did! Here she shares her experience of growing-up dyslexic and her enthusiasm for lifelong learning, together with her determination to succeed:

I’m coming to the end of a long hard seven years, but what an amazing seven years it’s been!

In 2011, I made the decision to return to formal education, not for career development but for personal enlightenment and satisfaction. I did it with the determination to show what I could do to everyone who put me down when I was growing-up. To all the educators who called me thick, stupid and lazy – you were wrong!

This summer I will graduate with a BA (Honours) from the Open University. When I started school in 1966, I didn’t hear the word ‘dyslexic’, I heard ‘she’s not academic’, or ‘she keeps herself to herself’. That little girl wanted to scream out ‘I want to read but I can’t make sense of it!’ After struggling through school for a few years, I was entered for the Eleven Plus examination, together with my classmates. Failing that examination, as I was bound to do, meant that I was sent off to the local secondary modern school, straight into the special needs department. Once there, I fell in love with any practical skills work I was given – metalwork, cookery, woodwork, needlework. But…I still wanted to learn those academic subjects.

Life became harder when I turned 13 and my mum and dad separated, so I had to move house and school. But, at this new school, I wasn’t sidelined into a special needs department, I was kept in mainstream education. Even better, I had a fantastic English teacher who helped me to achieve four Certificates of Secondary Education. I was able to go to college and follow a secretarial course. From the age of eight, all I’d ever really wanted to do was follow my dad into the Royal Air Force, and soon I was able to do this, too. I was 17 years old and wanted my dad’s praise.

Later, when I’d had children, I took jobs in retail to fit in around childcare. I continued to take every opportunity I could to study and to learn, taking courses in IT, employment law, and health and safety (to name a few). But I still wanted to do more and still felt the need to show my mum and dad that I wasn’t thick, lazy or stupid. This brings me to 2011, when I took the decision to start studying for my university degree. I started with the humanities – history has always fascinated me, I shared that interest with my mum. I soon changed to an open degree so I could study many more diverse subjects.

Not long after, I was finally statemented as having dyslexia, this opened the doors for so much support. Financial assistance followed, so did practical help – I now have the use of assistive technology, including software which has helped me write this blog post through dictation. What I want to say here, my message if you like, is never give up! Always go for your dreams, don’t let anyone put you down! Now, I can say to all those educators who pushed me aside, ignored me and failed to help me ‘Fuck you! Look at me now!’

I cannot wait for my graduation ceremony this summer, even though I’d love to share it with my mum and dad and they’ll be missing…

Categories
Living

Remembering

On 11 November, we remember. We give special thought to those who gave their tomorrow for our today.

At 11, on 11.11.2014, I stood with friends and strangers in Rhodes War Cemetery in bright sunshine, bowed my head and said a silent thank you. Afterwards, I walked and read and wondered what lives, hopes, dreams the gravestones marked. Something caught my attention – that extra something, giving a glimpse beyond the stone to the man. There, on the stone, it’s Valentine’s Day 1941, and there’s a photograph of five smiling young men, with their names and ranks. They served together, they died together. We remember together.

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