Dyslexia and Me: Education System and Me – Primary School

Childrens Books

I think it would be wrong to name and shame institutions in their failings. However, I am going to share a bit of my experiences within the education system in both Scotland and Ireland. I am going to look at the different stages separately to cover the next few weeks.

Primary School

I had a pretty positive experience in primary school. I had good friends, I enjoyed music, sports and art. I was in the second top groups for maths and reading. Yet, there were problems that I can reflect on in hindsight that my mother tried to raise with several teachers.

I recently looked back over my old jotters from primary school and the number of spelling mistakes I used to have! It was almost every second or third line there was an ‘Sp?’ in the margin. I used to love writing stories and poetry, I can remember being told off for writing stories that were so long! I even had one of my poems published in the newspaper after my headmaster sent it in and it was pinned to the notice board for everyone to see! Despite my love of writing, the number of spelling mistakes and my inability to comprehend grammar (which is still a problem I struggle with as I approach 30) should have set alarm bells ringing.

Meg and Mog

When we started school, I was the last student in the class to take a book home. They had ‘forgotten’ about me somehow, so while other kids were taking home stories of Meg and Mog, I slipped through the net. Little were we to know then that I was dyslexic and this would perhaps count as another disadvantage to me in later years. I remember loving stories, but when they were read to me, not when I was having to read them for myself. This has continue into my adulthood where I have become rather fond of audiobooks!

I recall in primary 2 crying after being told off by my teacher. Apparently she had been left emotionally scarred by the incident too as she told my mother years later. We had been told to write words and letters along a line rather than down the page. I found this VERY difficult because I couldn’t count how many lines down it was unless I had started writing them down the way to count them out first. One of the girls in the class had seen me doing this, despite the warning, and went and grassed me up. I recall exactly which girl in the class did it too! I found reading and writing along lines really hard and this was my coping strategy.

There were other areas where I really struggled. I used to HATE reading out loud in class! I was in the second top group of readers, but I often found myself tripping over words unless I had heard someone reading out the word before. I couldn’t work out how to read a word if I hadn’t heard someone else reading it out first. I still struggle with sounding out new words today.

Two things that really stuck with me where I can remember feeling utterly humiliated was the misspelt words sheet on the wall and being made to stand up in class for being a slow reader.

Luminous Stars

When we were in primary 5, we had this lovely teacher, she was one of my favourite teachers from school. She could recognise my musical abilities which she really seemed to appreciate as a piano player herself. The one thing though that I wish she hadn’t done was her sheet of paper on the wall with all the spelling mistakes we had made. I can remember being mortified as she put up one of my spelling mistakes of ‘luminous’ (a difficult word to spell when you’re 9 whether you’re dyslexic or not) was put onto the board. I can remember my classmate sat next to me tormenting me for a) using that word in the first place and b) just how far off the mark I had been in my attempt. The fact I can remember exactly what word it was that I felt humiliated by 20 years on perhaps shows the impact it had on me.

The next time I felt as mortified was when we were in primary 7. We were just about to leave for high school and suddenly we were faced with someone coming in to pick out the slow readers in the class. My only memory of what happened was someone coming into the class and names of students being called out to stand up. I was one of those students asked to stand before then being told in front of the whole class that they wanted to look at our reading skills as we were ‘slow readers’. Why they didn’t just take us to one side to talk to us, I do not know! I remember going a bright shade of scarlet. I don’t recall any of the aftermath of this. I don’t remember them talking to me about this topic again, though it could be that the initial trauma of being made to stand up in class has clouded my memory.

In Reflection

With all these warning signs along with my mother raising questions with several of my teachers in primary school, I left primary school for high school without any recognition of the problems I had. I think a lot of my struggles were put down to ‘laziness’ rather than a learning difference. The ‘she can’t be good at everything’ attitude continues to haunt me. Being dyslexic doesn’t mean you are thick, it just means you learn in a different way.

I would like to see the education system treat these types of problems with reading and spelling in a more tactful way. School is a hard enough place to get through. Kids can be very cruel and don’t need any extra excuses to bully or torment people. Being made to stand up in class was a humiliation I could have done without. Being taken to the side in a more tactful way would have made me feel a lot less like I was inferior to my classmates.

Posted on March 9, 2014, in Education, Personal Experience and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. you remined of myself . I am dyslexic and irlen my parents had fight for to have a dyslexia test it was wasn’t until I was 11 I got diagnosis with dyslexia .


  1. Pingback: Dyslexia and Me: A Month of Blogging | Dyslexia and Me

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