Professionally over the last 10 years I have been working with dyslexic and dyspraxic art and design students. Apart from the obvious difficulties, a number of students have complained to me that despite having been taught drawing over a number of years they find it particularly difficult.
This has led to an interesting collaboration with colleagues at Swansea, Middlesex and UCL and has resulted in a series of research papers. Paper 01 and Paper 02
So far the evidence is inconclusive but there is no denying the fact that many dyslexic and dyspraxic individuals feel that their lack of skill in drawing puts them at a professional disadvantage, (if at school you can draw a likeness you’re encouraged to take art GCSE and you’re labelled ‘creative’, if you can’t, you’re discouraged, which is tragic as many creative people cannot or would not aspire to draw a likeness,) There is also no denying the fact that art and design, and interestingly I’ve now discovered music, dance and drama all have higher than average numbers of dyslexic and dyspraxic individuals.
On a personal note I have known several highly talented dyslexic musicians for whom learning to read music was a real struggle and were it not for tremendous perseverance, encouragement from family and some enlightened teachers along the way would have given up long ago. Similarly a young drama student friend, also dyslexic has made enormous efforts to overcome her difficulties with firstly reading and subsequently learning scripts. And finally the distress and humiliation described to me by two dyspraxic girls whom are elegant, gracious, and rhythmic when moving spontaneously to music but freeze up when trying to reproduce a dance sequence from memory got me thinking about the possibility of teaching these arts subjects in ways that instead of humiliating, frustrating and discouraging, positively encouraged children, in spite of difficulties, not to give up on what could be an avenue to a life-long passion, artistic expression, interesting career possibilities, increased self-esteem and personal fulfilment.
I began writing down some of these thoughts and having discussions with friends and colleagues. And eventually after about a year we settled on the name Creative Mentors Foundation which to me is an embodiment of the ideas, images and words everyone has so generously contributed.