Book about experiences of dyslexic academics and artists is published

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A book that draws together the experiences of dyslexic academics and artists was launched on Friday June 22

Cascade - creativity across science, art, dyslexia, education has 15 papers on a wide variety of themes, including Celebrating Dyslexia, Maths and Music; Art, Dyslexia and Creativity; and Being Dyslexic in Higher Education.

Dyslexic contributors include Professor William Gosling, Professor Emeritus in Electronic Engineering at the University of Bath, and the artist Mike Juggins.

Professor Gosling, who has published 50 scientific papers and 15 books, describes in his paper how dyslexia was first recognised in 1896 by a GP, Pringle Morgan, and says that the reported incidence is now five per cent of the population and rising.

"At the local state junior school my reading was quick, my writing was execrable and my spelling was worse," writes Professor Gosling.

"I was told my failure to solve writing and spelling problems was due to my moral defects and I was beaten. This did not work, so they beat me harder. I was written off by my school so I mugged up on my own and got distinctions [in physics, chemistry and biology]."

He won a scholarship to read physics at Imperial College in London, where he studied under Sir George Thompson, the Nobel prize-winner and dyslexic.

Professor Gosling writes of his difficulty in coping with rote learning, his problem remembering students' faces and his having to write a dozen re-drafts of articles and books.

"What advice do I have for dyslexic academics? Simply this: break a probable life-long habit of hiding your dyslexia. Make a stand as a dyslexic. In all universities we need dyslexics. I think departments should encourage their dyslexic staff come out and identify themselves because it needs them to help the students." He lists fellow dyslexics in history, including Winston Churchill, Charles Darwin, John Lennon and Albert Einstein.

In his contribution, Mike Juggins, says: "Often it seems that no other group in society is forced to over-focus on their weaknesses at the expense of their strengths and their emotional equilibrium.

"Dyslexics often have fluid, spontaneous, sets of natural strengths. They are often global thinkers, due to a more equal balance in size between the two hemispheres of the brain. When nurtured they are often able to see the bigger picture."

The book, published by the University of Bath, follows a conference on the same issue at the University in 2001. It is edited by Morag Kiziewicz, Learning Support Manager at the University, and Dr Iain Biggs, Reader in Visual Art Practice at the University of the West of England. -University of Bath

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