Mark’s story of achievement from a diagnosis of dyscalculia and lack of support in school to becoming an advocate for adult education.
“This is a film about my journey in education. It connects my past to my present, from primary school to secondary school to third level and all the challenges I faced in the Irish education system without educational support and the difficulties of finding a job. My unhappiness at home and how I returned to education as an adult and became an ambassador for lifelong learning.”
Margot Connop’s artwork on dyscalculia popped up on our Instagram feed and we loved it so much we thought it would be great to get some insight into arts place in the world relating to dyscalculia, so without any further ado here’s the interview with Margot –
About a decade ago, a groundbreaking study found that eye pupils detect more than just light. New research by the School of Psychology of the University of Sydney in collaboration with the Universities of Pisa and Florence has revealed that eye pupils can also detect quantity and perceive the number of objects in a person’s field of vision.
Hi dwdyscalculia! Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your Instagram?
Hi! My name is Isabelle, I’m 20 years old and I work as a qualified freelance makeup artist in New Zealand. I was diagnosed with severe Dyscalculia (Acalculia) when I was around 11 years old. My Dyscalculia is not genetic, as I was born premature (25 weeks) and suffered a brain bleed, thus causing me to have Dyscalculia as a result. I was able to get specific tutoring for my Dyscalculia, in order to help me learn numeracy skills (this aided in me passing NCEA – similar to GCSE’s) Since being diagnosed, I have been a strong advocate for Dyscalculics.
I created my Instagram ‘Dancing with Dyscalculia’ when I was around 15 years old (also known as dwdyscalculia), to help educate and raise awareness of Dyscalculia. What better way to educate and raise awareness, create a discussion about certain topics in this day in age, than social media? I create and post textual descriptions with snippets of information about Dyscalculia, in order to help raise awareness. I will sometimes post questions relating to Dyscalculia and answer them. I also often answer questions relating to Dyscalculia in comments as well.
Nobody really discusses educational-associated anxiety. This is separate from my more general anxiety. My mother would ask or try to ask me how my was school today and just did not want to talk about it. There were no school counsellors when I went to school. The secondary school I attended was academically very strict. We were there to open our books face the front of the class, and shut up.
Ok, so maybe it’s a slow grower, but since we started this blog, there have been some leaps in research, and overall there is a little higher general awareness of dyscalculia. We thought we would give you a little rundown of the latest research related to dyscalculia over the last years, and perhaps this will help us see what the future may hold for dyscalculics the world over!
Back in 2018, some researchers at the University of Bonn were up to some, quite frankly, mind-boggling stuff. So we are born with the ability to count, and shortly after birth, babies can estimate the number of events and even perform simple calculations. But what exactly happens in the brain? And do we process abstract numbers differently from concrete quantities? To answer these questions, the researchers measured the reaction of individual nerve cells to quantities and demonstrated that certain nerve cells fired in response to very specific quantities. With the possibility of studying the individual nerve cells of the brain and the discovery that counting is done on such a scale, the researchers hope that their results will contribute to a better understanding of dyscalculia.
To make sense of my thoughts as a potentially dyscalculic adult – who faces specific challenges with logical thinking – I probably need to start with some context.
At primary school, long division took me years to master, and there were always strange little things I just didn’t get or couldn’t do what others found easy (despite me apparently starting off well ahead in intellectual maturity and reading age)… I also always lost at Monopoly! Nevertheless, apart from a few uncomfortable wobbles and blocks, I could keep up well into secondary school, even taking some exams early.
It’s the 1980s. I am sitting at a desk in primary school. It’s senior infants. Although I was an easy-going kid, I would get frustrated that I could not do maths and got upset about that.
There were five of us at the desk. The teacher is handing out copybooks. we were doing maths work. She asked us who had finished the and they all put up their hands, and then she asked who had not finished the work, and I put up my hand. The teacher said that they would wait until Mark is finished.
It took me some time to finish the work, and the rest of the class sat there and waited until I was finished. We were all getting ready to go home when one of my classmates turned to me and said, “I know you are not very good at maths Mark, but If I am late for football practice, I won’t forgive you”. I said, “I thought we were friends,” and he replied, “Just because we are classmates doesn’t mean that we are friends”.
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