C is for Communicate

C is for CommunicateShouldn’t this post be titled D is for dyslexic and not  C is for communicate? Lets find out in this post written by Julie Wilson, who also wrote What is Public Speaking?

My stepson is dyslexic, which is why, at the age of 18, he is waiting for the result of his third attempt at an English GCSE grade C.

It’s all about the ‘C’. It’s always mattered, not least to free him, finally, of this burden that ‘not getting a C’ has been for him. But this time, it means so much more …

D is for Dyslexic

As is the case with many dyslexic people, my stepson’s difficulties with the written word and basic maths concepts are outweighed by his talent. He has awesome talent … jaw-dropping, eyebrow-raising talent – in music production. As a young teenager, his talents were in basketball, knowing how to move furniture through the tightest spaces, charming the relatives (and everybody else), writing and performing raps, making people laugh … and music. He was a mean drummer as well. Now, at 18, he’s dropped the basketball, but since those early teenage years has held down numerous casual jobs and he achieved a BTec Diploma in Sports Science as well as a Music Technology qualification before embarking upon Post-16 learning. And all the while … through all these achievements and all the pride he has brought us, that elusive ‘C’ in English has sat in the middle of the room like the proverbial elephant. And never before has that elephant occupied so much space.

Because … my stepson has been offered a place at one of the UK’s up and coming music colleges. His interview, which I unwisely tried to prep him for with the usual what are your strengths, what are your weaknesses cliché, lasted for twenty minutes during which he played his music to the lecturer and was told, on the spot, that he would be recommended for a place to start this year. When he received the formal offer, and when we worked through the requirements to see that, by virtue of his existing qualifications and the requirement for a high grade in his current Music Technology course (and he got a Distinction!), it all boiled down to a ‘C’ in English, our emotions were two-fold … how brilliant that that’s all he needs to get in … oh God, not again … it’s like Groundhog Day …

C is for Communicate

C is for Communicate

And all of this put me in mind of a friend whose son got a D in English first time round. When he went to choose his A Level options the Assistant Head of the Academy he was at told him he had to take the ‘vocational route’. Why? asked his parents. ‘Because if you can’t get a C in English, you can’t communicate,’ said the teacher.

I won’t repeat the words I used in my response when my friend told me this story, but when, and how, did it become perceived wisdom that in order to communicate, we need to achieve a Grade C in English GCSE? Who says? And on what criteria is this based? Because … when I listen to my stepson’s music, his samples, his tracks, his mixes … I am transported to a different place, a good place, a place I’d like to go back to. And when I talk to him about his music and how he does it, his answers and his observations are as articulate and comprehensive as any commentator’s. And I foster dreams of what life might hold for him after his time at that up and coming music college. And then I remember … it’s all about the ‘C’ …