In 2004, two years after I took up the post of dyslexia co-ordinator at the Royal College of Art a number of students complained to me that despite having been taught drawing over many years they found it particularly difficult to draw accurately both from observation and from their mind’s eye.
This led to an interesting collaboration with colleagues at Swansea, Middlesex, UCL and Goldsmiths and has resulted in a series of research papers that have been presented at conferences both national and international and published in journals.
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 from doing so).
In a similar vein learning to read music can be a real struggle for people with dyslexia. I have meet many brilliant dyslexic and dyspraxic musicians who succeeded because of tremendous perseverance, and encouragement from family and some enlightened teachers, but without that they probably would have given up.
I began thinking about individuals at school with dyslexia and dyspraxia who couldn’t progress in their chosen creative subject because of the hurdles. This got me thinking about the possibility of teaching these arts subjects in ways that instead of humiliating, frustrating and discouraging, positively encouraged children, 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.