Whatever you are studying at degree level and beyond, the greater context has to be preparation for finding work or starting a business in your chosen sector.
It seems that whatever you learn, showing people under the engine of the business sector students will be entering is not seen as helping them. We have to reinvent the wheel. Rather giving us the engine and the wheels and allowing us to design and build the car and road test it. We also need to find its audience, hire staff, create our marketing budgets and launch it with an information website and sell it, eventually, to mass market.
Case studies from other businesses that have incorporated could show us the simple steps that all businesses go through. Why do we have to fumble around in the dark, pulling threads from YouTube Videos, books, bits and bobs when setting up a business is a clear linear process to follow: 1. Choose a name 2. Register at Companies House 3. File a report 4 create a budget, etc.
It is the same with much of science in my view. To be healthy, every human body requires the same set of essential vitamins and minerals but we all respond to foods differently. Likewise, we all need to do the same things to start a business, but we will all be creating our own services or products. There may be direct competition but mostly we would be able to learn from them and vice versa.
In therapy, many people look at human psychology in a subjective, isolated way. This is much the same as diet. I think the bigger picture is how humans work. Even though one person may become a sociopath and another a philanthropist from the same treatment, there is also nature and perhaps one person had loving parents and the other was adopted. There is an set of factors that would determine how different people respond mentally, as much as they would to food. Why does science not look at the whole picture and put all contributory factors into one holistic jigsaw puzzle rather than just looking at the pieces.
It seems to me that human nature or, more specifically, human psychology is not well understood. We have an education system, which may provide degrees in the arts, music and writing, but in the UK, the main focus always seems to be about academic thinking.
Even if you are an active, creative thinker who has made a success of this way of working, processing visually and seeing the whole picture, looking at things holistically and being able to see the problem and solve it are not regarded in academic. If you can’t think in a straight line and do things in the right order, you have a ‘constraint’ in the eyes of the people who decide your success from university courses.
I have always believed that universities at the top of the league tables, Oxbridge for example, have less to prove and therefore integrate neurodiversity into their programs. You may be an artist or an engineer but you won’t need special assistant at any top university as they will have invested money in being able to attract the best students. They are also vested in these students moving into successful careers to have the best alumni to attract more of the best students.
It is worth at least considering whether the most important engine to drive success after graduation is the provision of tools. A modern artist first learns how to use oils, how to glaze, to paint on canvas, stretch canvases, how to mount pictures and use the whole range of pencils. A piano student learns scales.
A guitarist learns how to hold the guitar to be able to run their finger up a fretboard and to play different styles. However, they also learn how to create websites, biographies, do recordings, promote themselves and some music law too. The best music schools teach about copyright, publishing, recording contracts and hold showcases to be seen by talent scouts.
There have been more studies on how we learning. There are two ways described in this article by Oxford Learning: Rote Learning and Meaningful Learning. This sums up my experience as I remember struggling with my times tables until I found a meaningful way to learn them. I could not learn conventionally. Moving my attention from one subject, when I immersed myself in it, to another was hard enough, without being expected to fill my memory with rote memorisation.
Throughout my education I have felt let down by learning expectations. During my O’levels, I didn’t do as well as teachers expected due to me wanting to provide my own thoughts, not the ones dictated to us in class. I took great interest in all my education and then went to art college as, due to blatant sexism in the system – unchallenged and accepted in society – I didn’t get physics and Latin options at O’level. In the 1980s, it seemed I was being raised to be a housewife and mother, not to have a career. It was like ‘shut up the men are talking’.
In business, soft skills are under valued by far. Hardnosed business is looked up to and emulated, even expected. Meanwhile, communication – which is free and can be mistressed (not saying mastered, am reclaiming ‘mistress’ from its seedy usage) to great affect for websites, PR, content, social media and customer relations.
Am also re-reading the Seed Network by Lynne Franks. It recounts the route from kitchen table to large PR company that dealt with celebrities, famous musicians and top brands (where I worked in 1995). The feminine way of business has many benefits to both men and women and contributes directly into businesses about sustainability, human resources, equality, communications and relationship building.
Therefore, I refute the academic view that dyspraxia is a ‘constraint’. It is a disempowering and oppressive label, seemingly, to keep down those of us who learn meaningfully and still use watching and copying to mistress (or master for a guy) new skills.
Providing tools and laying out processes clearly in step by step instructions are soft skills and ones that the top arts schools and universities have integrated into their diversity and inclusivity initiatives