In my experience, one of the very useful aspects of All-Life-Learning is that we can get the motivation to revisit and explore our school years which I would certainly never have done otherwise because they weren’t particularly happy ones for me. So, coming at learning in my own way now and on my own terms has been hugely liberating.

I was doing alright at school until one day (I think I must have been about 5) our teacher handed out lots of small exercise books inside which the pages were covered in little blue squares.

That day, my future prospects took a turn for the worse. The lessons, which so far had been fairly enjoyable, started to include ‘sums’ and oh, how my spirits sank whenever I heard our teacher say word.

I just couldn’t get it. My brain which, until sums arrived, seemed to be working quite nicely, just would not spark. I stared and despaired! Until one day, I came up with the best solution my 5 year old brain could think of …I started hiding my sums book deep inside my desk and didn’t hand it in for marking.

So, started a long trail of covering-up, guilt and fear which, caused anxiety for my parents as well as me.

At age 11, for a reason that made sense to somebody, I was selected to go to the most academically entrenched and math’s-centric school in our district!

5 years later, in the national examinations, I became the only boy in the school’s history to spend the entire 60 minutes copying out, word-for-word, the entire the maths question paper!

It’s only quite recently, after discovering All Life Learning, that I started to feel able to revisit that whole episode of my life and try to make some sense of it. And the answer is…Dyscalculia!

Today, Dyscalculia is officially recognised in the UK as a disability under the Specific Learning Differences classification which includes dyslexia and dyspraxia. There are widespread services available for families and schools providing support and advice.

The website I looked at described the condition as being… ‘part of the diversity of human beings: we are not all alike.’  (yes, but we’ve come a long way!)

So why did I tell you all that and what did I discover?   

Bringing those memories to mind, I could see myself from outside looking in whereas, before, if I thought of what happened, I was stuck in the perspective of a 5 year old.

Writing about it also showed me that there were other people involved who were, at that time,  unable to intervene in any meaningful way. There just weren’t the resources or the awareness available.

It was liberating to get what happened out of my system after so long. Writing about it not only opened it up but it gave some shape to what had been a ghost in the attic.

If there’s anything in your attic which you think could do with an airing, I recommend it!