The Angry Dyslexic Versus The Nuns

by Philip Morley

In answer to an earlier question. . .  At the time, dyslexia was not well recognized in England and there were no alternate forms of instructions available that my family had access to. As I grew older, the gap between the other students and myself also grew. . . . .a fact other kids did not fail to notice. By the time I was about 11 years old, I had become a considerable disciplinary problem. I constantly got into fights. I think that I was essentially a good kid. But I grew up in a rough part of London and my struggles presented an obvious target. Saving what little face I could meant not backing down. Finally, I was expelled from school. This turned out to be the best possible decision for me.
I was moved to a Catholic school that specialized in students with behavioral issues and a wide range of learning differences.  The decision was not made lightly. My commute was about an hour and a half each way. Academics were pretty much out the window. These nuns were just trying to get me back on track and help me avoid getting into more serious trouble. Fortunately, the school was filled with many compassionate teachers who were on a mission of their own. The mission of the school was to help students with a wide variety of learning differences to regain self-esteem, confidence and to help them develop their own skills and gifts. For me. . . . it worked miraculously!
I discovered wood shop. My teacher, Mr. Richards noticed that I was naturally good at woodshop and I was keen to learn more. He encouraged me on various projects beyond the basic class lessons. For the first time, a teacher began to speak to me about my prospects for the future. I didn’t know that I had a future! My focus had been mentally surviving from one moment to the next. But after several years of encouragement, I began thinking about college and considering a trade.
Still, the biggest blessing of this school was that I learned to discover my strengths as a person. . . not just my gifts. I learned that there are many different people in the world who face a wide range of challenges. . . .  many of those challenges were far greater than my own. I also learned to find the gifts within others as well as myself. I learned how to be more compassionate and patient when interacting with those whose challenges differed from my own. I became a mentor to those who struggled more than I did and found that I had the ability to help others. To my continuous surprise, I found that the students facing the greatest struggles often had the greatest degree of optimism, grace, and joy in the face of those challenges. I am always amazed by the same truths found in nature. Wood that has experienced some trauma in the course of its life often turns out to be the most interesting. This growth did not take place instantly. I had many more obstacles to overcome.