Clenton Farquarson: Reading Aloud

Clenton Farquarson was born in Birmingham in 1964. He grew up in Birmingham and went to his local mainstream schools.

Here Clenton remembers the effect that being asked to read out loud would have on him.

  • Clenton Farquarson
  • Clenton Farquarson
  • Clenton Farquarson

Transcript

The other strong memory of school is the teachers asking me to read out loud. And I remember the book was Tom Sawyer and it was – to read it out to the school. And I got, like a panic attack, because in my head all the teacher was saying was, ‘Now, Clenton, read out your paragraph, read out to the class,’ and it just made me so anxious. And I remember we had a girl who used to sit next to me called Amanda, Amanda Holder, and I remember punching her. I remember punching her right in the face so I could get out of reading. And I remember the headmaster, the teacher, everyone jumped on me to pull me out of the class, because I just was so frightened of the power of the words and – on the page and, yeah, that didn’t help how they saw me at school. But nobody asked me why.

And the worst thing was this was constant - every time I was asked to read, the same behaviour that happened. I’d punch whoever was next to me, but no-one picked up this pattern. I've got quite a few of those memories, you know. I think the class and some of my school mates soon realised not to sit by me, you know.

Saying that, I went back to a school reunion, ‘cause I wanted to see what other people have got up to, ‘cause they had all the year from ’86, so it was a reunion of that year. So I went there and I remember seeing Amanda Holder, who I’d punched as that horrible little child then. But, seeing her with her husband, and I remember, you know, she brought it up ‘cause I was thinking I didn’t really want to bring it up, but she brought it up with her husband there and I was thinking at the time, he’s going to hit me. He was a very big fellow. And I explained to her what I know now, that part of my behavioural issues was down to my Dyslexia. And she said – well, she remembered saying to me that she thought I was a lot brighter than most people thought, but I just found it difficult if someone asked me to write it down.