#44 Being Afraid of Jumping the Chasm of Studying

Hannah shares how she was afraid of jumping the chasm of studying because the tools other students used weren’t working for her. So she found another way to jump using her creativity.

Here are some of Hannah’s Top QUOTES in the podcast.

Early Memories

 “I don’t remember being particularly bad at school. My parents noticed that I was struggling. I remember being afraid of studying… I remember the social implications of not understanding things and how it affected me in a classroom… I remember being afraid of not knowing the answer to questions.”

What it feels like when studying

 “  It feels a lot like standing in front of a big black hole. You were asked a question and you knew that to answer the question you had to get across the hole to the other side. So you had a problem on this side. The solution was on the other side and you had to make your way across. And in the classroom, you were given all kinds of tools to give you stepping stones across that black hole. And you would watch as your peers stepped across the stepping stones and reach the other side, but you would step onto the same stepping stones they did. And you would fall down the hole and you had no idea why. And you became afraid of the hole..”

Challenge – Confusion

“  I go back to the analogy of having to climb over the hole, a teacher in a classroom has a couple of ways to teach a child to solve a problem, whether that’s reading, writing, mathematics, and they will try more than one with you… But in my mind, all of the different ways of getting across the whole and solving a problem, they compounded in my head… and in the end you just get so bogged down by all the different strategies..”

Being left behind

“ I think I didn’t like feeling left behind. It’s the same thing as when your friends go out for a pizza. When you don’t get invited, your friends can read that book and you’re not invited to the party and you just, you can see why children with dyslexia behave badly in a classroom..”


It was really interesting that first year I, I would always get ill on Wednesdays. I just didn’t feel very well on Wednesdays and my dad would keep coming to pick me up from school until one day he was driving us home and he said, Hannah, what class do you have on Wednesdays at about 10? And I said, oh it’s maths. And I hadn’t realized. I was so afraid of math. I would, I would feel ill and go to the reception to say, please take me home. I’m not, well. I wasn’t ill, I hated maths.”

Feel empowered

it’s the same reason why there’s a kid that wants to be funny because if you have something to offer the social dynamic of a classroom, your useful. And it’s interesting because as soon as I had an academic edge, I became useful to the classroom. So actually when I was better at studying and started to really enjoy English literature, science and history, I became useful to the room and I found I was much more accepted when I had something to bring.”

Creativity and fun

There are certain things that you do on A4 line to piece of paper that you don’t do on an A zero piece of rolled out paper with paint and actually your brain engages mind does 10 times more on an A zero rolled out piece of paper with coloured pens because you’ve learned to play with big pieces of paper and coloured pens but you’ve learnt to be serious with lined A4… Make it colourful, make whatever you’re trying to learn into something fun, whatever you find fun and your brain just, it’s like the way that we remember song lyrics. If you ask a kid to remember a poem by Caroline Duffy, they probably won’t cause it’s written. If you ask them to remember song lyrics to an Ed Sheeran song, they know it instantly..”

Dyslexia Problem-Solving

A dyslexic person becomes acquainted with problem-solving in a way that may be a normal learner might not. Because if they just follow the steps they’re taught to get over the black hole and they get their reward at the end, they’ve learned how to follow instructions. They haven’t learned how to look at a black hole, look at a problem and think, well, if I can’t use those steps, what else can I use? Maybe I could use this hot air balloon… You get so acquainted with looking at a problem from lots of different angles because you know you need to get yourself across, you know that’s not working and you’ve got to find another way to do it. And that’s the essence of creativity. If you can look at a problem from an angle that other people aren’t looking at it, that is the role of an artist… to find something that everyone’s been looking at for a thousand years and say, look at it from over here. Maybe you’ll see the world differently.”

Mind Mapping

I would remember the space on a page where something was written. So when you’re in an exam you visualize the map and then you follow the route along to the information that you want. A bit like a neural pathway. And if you can follow along the pathway, maybe by colour coding you normally can actually just see in your mind’s eye what is that you wrote down?”

Celebrate but never at the expense of others

I think it’s important that we celebrate our victories, but never at the expense of other people. Sometimes out of spite, there was a genuine desire in me to shove everybody to the bottom of the pile and get myself to the top of the pile because I had been at the bottom. But that’s not different from a bully. A bully walks into a school and if they have been made to feel small at home, they will try and make you feel small in school. And I, when I see the attitude I had that wasn’t, it wasn’t kindness. There wasn’t gentleness in the way that I approached academia. I just wanted to be the best, because it made me feel big… No one’s going to get to the end of their life and number, how many GCSEs they got… They will remember whether they were kind. So if you can get through a dyslexia journey and still be kind to the people who told you were stupid, for me, that’s a greater victory than academic achievement. And that’s why I am embarrassed about the attitude I had toward my academic achievement at school. “

Listen to the podcast episode now

Want to listen to more dyslexia stories? Click here to subscribe to our podcast, Dyslexia Explored.

Links you might want to go:

Hanna Kelly’s website: https://www.hannahkelly.co.uk/ The busy project website: http://www.thebusyproject.org.uk/ Instagram: @hannahkellyillustration Scottish national galleries – Edinburgh  Quick books driving instructor: http://the-smart-way.co.uk/ photos credited to @darklightphotography Shownotes: https://mindmapstudio.com/44 What is dyslexia: https://mindmapstudio.com/what-is-dyslexia/ BulletMap Academy webinar: Podcast Episodes:  CEO of DyslexiaScifi Author

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