Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity (CREID)

"I maybe stupid but it's My stupid"

A blog by Katie Jones, who is a year 13 student from a school in England. This blog was written when Katie was in year 10.

Katie Jones
This artwork was created by Katie during her graphic design course this year and represents one of the first story books that she enjoyed in primary school.

Have you ever sat in a classroom, waiting for the moment when the teacher utters the words, "okay now let us have a volunteer to read to the group and then pass it on."

This is the moment for most children when they roll their eyes and moan that they have to read out loud. However for the few, those with dyslexia like me for instance, this is the moment that the fear starts rushing, you feel the beads of sweat run down your foreheads the anxiety sets in.

Of course I know this routine well. A "joker" will deliberately pick you out to read, Only to hear you stumble and stutter as the first ripples of laughter rolls across the classroom. This is the moment when you feel ten inches tall.

Sadly this is my first memory of school. I was six years old. I can remember the exact  book, front cover an all! The Magic Key: The Fairground Ride. (I still hate this book to this day).

I like many others was an unidentified dyslexic student or as some would call it "stupid" and to this day this memory still scars me, like many others when I hear the phrase "group readjng" I cannot help but cringe. (I know that you are thinking already - poor stupid girl telling her story, trying to get the attention and sympathy of others but I can assure you now that my story is a comedy not a tragedy).

The tragic fact is that 3 out of 10 kids suffer from a learning barrier such as dyslexia and 45% of these dyslexic children are not identified before the age of eight, this means that they have already learnt their basic skills which they will revert back to when trying to spell more complex words (this is the reason that no one can read my writing, other than Mum because I always revert back to phonics despite Mrs Blount's best efforts).

As many unidentified dyslexic children under the cage of eight I struggled to read and write it can lead to behavioural issues. However my behavioural issues often lapsed into comedy. For example.... one of my lesser moments as a small child I used to sit and rip up the Magic Key books during reading time. And when asked why I did this I said because the Magic Key were far less interesting than my own made-up stories and therefore I was destroying them for the greater good. My teacher felt the need to quote this on Year 1 report. To put the icing on the cake when I was asked to give a real answer I said because the words would not sit still. Yes, I have always had a rather large mouth and do not know when to give up the battle.

Fortunately I was one of the lucky ones as my mum worked in a field where she knew how to identify dyslexic children and after receiving my Year 1 report and hearing me try to read herself she looked into trying to get me some support.

My mum finding out about my "stupid" has led to some interesting coping mechanisms along with some eccentric phrases  one of her personal favourites is, "Just because I can't spell it doesn't mean I can't say it." I have lost count of the amount of times she has chanted this to me because we should all believe that having the knowledge is more important than writing it down. Having things like this to tell yourself, these silly little things to reassure your mind, can make all the difference. 

However my favourite saying and about when I still continued to think I was stupid. So I started to think in a different direction . Yes, I am stupid but it's my stupid. No one take it away from me and if I choose to embrace it, no "joker", whether teacher or student, can make fun of me.

I am still "stupid" but it is my stupid: still can't spell; still can barely read but I refuse to give my "joker" the satisfaction of watching me crumble.

So when  the teacher utters those immortal words, "okay now let us read this page as a group." I can still feel the haunting sound of memories but I now push the anxiety back as my hand flies up into the air as I volunteer to read. Proving to myself and others, once again, that barriers from the past do not have to be barriers in the present. Remember it's My stupid don't let your stupid hold you back.