Tag Archives: creative

Dyslexia Is Not An Illness Or An Injury

Dyslexia is not an illness or an injury – it is not something that you can ‘get better’ from, but is a learning difference which means you need to approach some things differently. Nor does dyslexia mean that you are ‘less intelligent’ than someone else – but using the same judgments for those with and those without dyslexia creates an unfair playing field.

 

Perhaps to use physical terms (even though your brain is, in effect, just another organ) you wouldn’t ask someone with poor eyesight to just try to look harder or someone who was wheelchair-bound that they just weren’t trying hard enough.

 

Instead, just like wearing glasses, people with dyslexia may need some assistance with some tasks. Again, like those glasses you may use to help you see, so there is technology available to help those with learning differences like dyslexia to get along in a world that isn’t always designed to suit.

 

The law requires that workplaces make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to help those with dyslexia to do their job and the range of support available to students has never been better, yet there still remains a great level of misunderstanding about things like dyslexia.

 

If these types of difference are not recognised and acted upon then we will continue to see a society where those with dyslexia, autism, ADHD and other similar neurodiversities will be marginalised or simply treated as being ‘stupid.’

 

In fact, tests have shown this to be far from the case, and some employers are going out of their way to court neurodivergent employees in order to make the most of any differences in thought pattern and levels of creativity.

 

So, rather than seeing those with dyslexia as having something ‘wrong’ with them, like a broken leg that can be set and fixed, we need to recognise that dyslexia is merely a difference – just like your hair or eye colour, except that it is a difference with how your brain is wired. Not better, not worse, just different – with its own benefits and drawbacks.

 

Dyslexia is not something that we need to ‘cure,’ it is something that we need to accommodate in a world that all-too-often is just not designed with dyslexics in mind. Only when we do this can we unlock potential and fully appreciate the great benefits that neurodiversity can bring.

Uncovering The Learning Myths Of Neuroscience

There are a lot of common beliefs around how our brains work – especially when it comes to learning. Some common myths are being peddled like facts, and it seems that if you couple one of these pseudo-scientific ‘facts’ with a picture of the brain people are more likely to believe them!

 

Unfortunately, some of these learning myths are believed by teachers and parents and therefore make their way into the beliefs of students too. Of course, understanding how our memories work and how we learn is useful when it comes to teaching and more effective study, but it seems that a few of the more commonly held beliefs are actually wrong, and have no real basis in fact.

 

Here are a few common neuroscience myths – and why they simply aren’t true:

 

  • You have A Favoured ‘Learning Style.’

 

This incredibly common neuroscience myth says that each of us has a preferred way of learning – whether visual, auditory or kinaesthetic – that is using your eyes, listening or a hands-on approach. The theory says that you will learn better if you use your ‘favoured’ learning style.
Despite there being no evidence to support this, it is apparently believed by 93% of teachers. While some students will have a preference for a particular style of learning this doesn’t actually translate over to getting better grades.  In fact, findings indicate that it is best to use a variety of different senses and learning styles to cement new information in the brain – creating neural pathways related to sight, sound and touch is more effective than just using one of these.

 

  • You Only Use 10% Of Your Brain

 

There is a myth going around that Albert Einstein declared that we only use 10% of our brain, leading some to believe that there is a great untapped potential within all of us. However, the theory is untrue – and Einstein never said anything of the sort!

 

Unfortunately, a lot of people still believe this myth, despite there being no evidence to support it. In fact, with advances in our understanding of how the brain works we know that this 10% myth is incorrect.

 

  • Right Or Left Sided Brain

 

An amazing 91% of teachers believe that the difference between the right or left sides of the brain create differences in individual learners who are described as using one side or the other. There is a belief that those who are left-brained are rational and objective while those who are right-brained are more creative. This was based on a study of epilepsy in the 1960s, but since then research has found that neither side of the brain is solely responsible for personality types. Students may decide that they don’t have the right sort of brain for a particular subject, which is, of course, nonsense!

 

  • Brain Training Games Make You Smarter

 

You have probably seen adverts for brain training games and how they claim to be able to help improve your memory, concentration or intelligence. Of course, playing these games frequently means that you will get better at them over time, but there is no evidence to suggest that this transfers over to making you better at other activities, such as learning in class.

 

There are some benefits to be had from these type of games, for example for those suffering from Alzheimer’s and of course, keeping you brain active can certainly help in these type of circumstances. However, a leading researcher into these type of games concluded that there is  “no evidence for any generalised improvements in cognitive function following brain training in a large sample of healthy adults.”

 

These neurological myths are surprisingly widespread but perhaps it is time to look at them with a more critical eye. For example, it is clear to see that makers of brain-training games will be keen to get you to buy them, so may make a few leaps of judgment in promoting them to the public. Here’s hoping that these out-dated myths fade away to be replaced by more solid, research-based facts!

Seeking The Strengths Of Neurodiversity

When people think of conditions such as dyslexia they tend to focus on the difficulties associated with them. However, neurodiverse minds have a great many strengths too – if you can only recognise them.

 

While some patterns of thought and neurodiversities can make certain tasks more difficult, they can equally be of benefit in other areas. For example, while it is something of a stereotype, high tech companies have been known to actively seek out and engage employees with autistic traits, having found that these employees can have a great deal to offer if given the right support and impetus.

 

Of course, to judge everyone with autism or dyslexia as being similar is wrong, but if global leaders like Microsoft can recognise the benefits of a diverse workplace then why can’t smaller firms follow suit?

 

This may mean implementing a few extra levels of support – such as text to speech software or even altering the working environment to better suit different employees, but these small changes and additions to can make all the difference and unlock the real benefits of a more neurodiverse workforce.

 

With different mindsets come different opinions and approaches to problem-solving which can reap rewards for the forward-thinking business. Indeed, it is not just about the strengths associated with a neurodiverse workforce but can be about the weaknesses too!

 

When we tackle something challenging we may be forced to find alternative solutions. This ‘thinking outside the box’ approach to a problem or situation can open up previously unseen avenues for development or growth – something that may have been missed if everyone was of a similar mindset.

 

As with any employee, the trick is to work towards the strengths of staff rather than trying to fit square pegs into round holes. This is not to say that people can’t develop (as we all can), but rather it is worth recognising and using existing strengths where possible.  While someone with Asperger’s, for example, may not be the best communicator, they can bring a dedication and a focus that is hard to ignore.

 

Just as out bodies are different so are our minds, which offers us all various strengths and weaknesses to work with or improve upon. Rather than seeing neurodiversity as an abnormality, we should recognise this as just another difference in how we are wired. Different doesn’t mean bad – it simply means different – and the sooner we can all recognise that, the better!

Time To Train? UK Falls Behind In Digital Skills

Some recent research from Barclays has shown that the UK has fallen behind other nations when it comes to digital skills. Using a variety of attributes to score each nation, the Barclays Digital Development Index ranked 10 countries from around the world according to their ‘digital empowerment,’ with the UK coming in at just 4th, behind Estonia, South Korea, and Sweden.

 

The statistics found that there seemed to be a disconnect between policies to promote and support digital engagement and the actual confidence in digital skills shown by UK employees. While the UK seemed strong on policies, this was offset by the poor confidence and digital capabilities of UK workers when compared to those in other nations including Chine, the USA, and India.

 

When it comes to content creation the UK ranks in just 7th place, showing that we are nation more interested in consuming rather than creating digital content. But does this really matter?

 

Digital skills are important for the economy, but are also key for security, with UK employees shown to be less likely to secure their phones and laptops from data leaks than those in Brazil, South Africa or China. With cyber hacking continuing to be a real issue, this is just one reason why we should all be a little more digitally-minded.

 

So what can be done about it?

 

Digital skills training seems important to help the UK keep up with other countries, especially in a post-EU economy. Estonia and South Korea currently lead the way when it comes to vocational and workplace-based digital skills, with the UK trailing in 7th place. Just 38% of UK employees said that their employer offered digital skills training – way below nations like China the U.S. or India.

 

With a constantly changing digital landscape it is no longer enough to rest on your laurels, instead employers need to be switched on and engaged with the shifting landscape of technology – from social media, smartphones, and even to the future with things like Artificial Intelligence. Change is happening fast and the UK needs to keep up with the pace – which means encouraging more digital skills in the workplace and a culture of continued learning of new skills.

 

Vocendi are just one of the businesses that can help employers with digital skills – find out more here.

What Is Mind-Mapping – & What Can It Do For You?

You may have heard of ‘mind-mapping’ but not really know what it is. A Mind Map is a way of noting down thoughts, ideas, and concepts in a way that it much more visual than traditional written notes. Using graphics to represent ideas, rather than words, mind-mapping engages your brain in more ways than a regular linear text – making it ideal for anything from note-taking, planning, brainstorming, and study, to research, creativity, and problem-solving.

 

What Is A Mind Map?

 

The best way to explain what a mind map looks like is to look up a picture online (try an image search for ‘mind map’ – it should bring up plenty of examples). But, generally speaking, a mind map will start with your basic idea or problem in the middle of the page, with different ideas, concepts, or information branching off in various directions.

 

You can use colour on each sub-section, pictures, and other graphics to help make the mind map more visual, and don’t be afraid to change text size and style as you see fit. You don’t need to be a great artist, it is all about getting the information down in a visual way, so the more visual clues you can include, the better.

 

The best mind maps are concise, so keep your topics short – a single word or just a picture may do the job and keep your mind map effective.

 

Your mind map doesn’t have to be done on paper either, as there are a number of mind mapping software programs like MindView and Inspiration.

 

The Benefits:

 

The main benefit of mind mapping is that the way the information is presented is structured in way that resembles how your brain actually works. A mind map engages your brain in a number of different ways (cognitive, creative), which means that information is much easier to take in while also sparking your creativity.

 

While there has been a focus on mind mapping and neurodiversity, mind maps are a great tool for everybody – whether at work, in college, or even for working out plans in your personal life!

 

In fact, pretty much anything that you want to summarise, consider, brainstorm, or note down can be turned into a mind map – so why not ditch the text and start using mind mapping instead?

 

An Introduction to Text-to-Speech Software

Text-to-Speech software is a great tool for those who may struggle with conditions like dyslexia, but what is it exactly and how does it work?

 

Quite simply, the software will read documents back to you so that you can listen to the words on a page rather than having to read them yourself. Not only is this great for dyslexics, but it can be useful for other users too – allowing you to sit back and listen to long documents rather than staring at your computer screen. It can even let you get on with doing something else while you take in information from a document.

 

Not only does text-to-speech software allow you to listen to existing documents, but it can also help when you are typing documents of your own.

 

With tools such as spell-checking and word prediction, text-to-speech programs offer many of the types of assistance that you would find in regular word-processing programs. Text-to-speech can also be set to spot things like homophones. These are words that are pronounced the same as another word but has a different meaning or spelling – like two, too, and to. Plus, the addition of having your words read back to you can really help with matters like punctuation.

 

Text-to-speech software generally uses a toolbar at the top of the screen, including buttons like play and stop, making them clear and easy to use.

 

The speech can either be set to work with every word you type or, alternatively, it can read back entire sentences when you type a full-stop.  Great for proof-reading, you can even download the text as an MP3 file to listen to later. You can even pick between a variety of voices and accents so that you can find one you like!

 

Using text-to-speech software can greatly improve the speed and accuracy of not just your reading but also writing your own reports for work, college assignments, and more.

 

Generally-speaking, text-to-speech software comes in three different varieties. Firstly, the is ‘universal’ software, which can be used on any existing program. The second type comes as an add-on to an existing program, like word. Finally, there are stand-alone software programs, which are often free and come with their own dedicated word-processing systems, although these may include additional upgrades which can be bought.

 

Scientists Link Autistic Traits & Creativity

A study by the University of Stirling and the University of East Anglia has found that people who exhibit autistic traits are more likely to deliver creative ideas when faced with problem-solving tasks. Psychologists looked into the link between people with high autistic traits and creativity, finding that while they delivered fewer problem-solving responses they tended to be more original and creative than those given by others.

The research studied people who had high levels of autistic thought processes and behaviour – although these people may not have been diagnosed with autism. The 312 people were given a series of creativity tests after completing an anonymous online questionnaire designed to measure the levels of autistic traits they exhibited. The responses were then rated for creativity, quantity, and how elaborate they were. The results showed that those respondents who gave four or more unusual responses tended to have higher levels of autistic traits.
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