GCHQ’s Search For Dyslexic Spies Is Progress
WHAT is dyslexia? Why is it treated as a handicap? What are dyslexics “suffering”, as the boy above was? Carola Binney writes on the search for dyslexic spooks:
GCHQ’s policy is a recognition that intelligence is a multi-faceted thing, and that diversity is about more than gender, race and sexual orientation. We complain that top companies don’t have enough female perspectives in the boardroom, but employing more dyslexics could perhaps bring an even deeper diversity to the table. As the Oxford-based dyslexia researcher Anna Pitt told the Guardian this week, we should look to dyslexics like Einstein or Richard Branson: their condition ‘forced them to challenge the norm and find a new way of doing things. Sometimes this results in a solution which is better than the regular one.’
Of course, my dyslexia has its downsides. My history degree is made harder by the fact that I struggle to notice that ‘1789’ and ‘1879’ are different numbers. I’m so embarrassed about my spelling that, even if I’m only writing a Postit note to a friend, I put it through the spellchecker first.
And for many people there’s no bright side to being dyslexic at all. ‘Dyslexia’ is a rather meaningless label, covering a huge spectrum of conditions. When severe or coupled with other learning difficulties, it’s often seriously disabling. Even in mild cases, dyslexic kids need support at primary school to become literate and numerate and remain engaged with education. But GCHQ are right – sometimes it helps to be dyslexic.
Don’t treat difference with suspicion and pity. School must not be all about conformity…