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Teachers: PSHE: Ability

Last Updated: Friday May 12 2006 15:30 GMT

Famous people with Dyslexia


Study and careers

Chef Jamie Oliver cooks for fellow Dyslexic Tom Cruise
Xtraordinary Week runs from 16 - 22 May. It's a new initiative that encourages schools to become dyslexic friendly.

Below are some ideas for introducing this subject into PSHE by talking about the way that many famous people have overcome dyslexia by developing their talents.

This activity allows students to consider their own skills and abilities by answering a questionnaire.

Learning aims

  • What Dyslexia is
  • Assessing your strengths
  • Setting yourself targets


    Read out this list of famous people. What do the class think these people have in common?

  • Jamie Oliver
  • Orlando Bloom
    Orlando Bloom
  • Keira Knightley
  • Tom Cruise
  • Robbie Williams
  • Michael Barrymore
  • Noel Gallagher
  • Muhammad Ali
  • Anthea Turner
  • Guy Ritchie
  • Richard Branson
  • Steve Redgrave
  • Albert Einstein

    They are all famous people who have said they have dyslexia, or had a lot of difficulty with reading and writing at school. For a more comprehensive list follow the Xtraordinary people link in the green box on the right.

    Case study

    Read this Press Pack report on living with dyslexia

    What do the students already know about dyslexia?

  • The word 'dyslexia' comes from the Greek language and means 'difficulty with words'.

  • People who have dyslexia can have problems with reading writing or spelling.

  • People with dyslexia have very slight differences in the part of the brain that deals with language.

    Main activity

    Explain to the students that they will soon be answering the self-assessment questions.

    Can the class say why it is a good idea to reflect on your own abilities and skills?

    Go through the statements and clarify anything that may be unclear before the students start.

    Extension activity

    Students could write about their strengths and areas for improvement in more detail. Perhaps in the form of a pledge.


    Recap on the main reasons for self-assessment and allow volunteers to present their views if they wish.

    Teachers' Background

  • People with dyslexia often have rare talents. They can have great ideas and be able to solve problems in new ways by being very creative. This is called 'lateral thinking'.

  • About 10% of children have dyslexia. It mainly affects boys - but some girls get it too!

  • The right side of the brain controls the creative and artistic skills. The left side controls logic and maths skills.

  • Many dyslexic people have a slightly larger right side of the brain which makes them very creative, musical, sporty and good at problem solving.

  • Tom Cruise has said about dyslexia: "My childhood was extremely lonely. I didn't have many friends. I was dyslexic and a lot of kids made fun of me. That experience made me tough inside."

    Turn this into an assembly

  • Use the list of famous people to highlight the fact that difficulties can be overcome when a person tries their best to improve

  • Ask volunteers to present their strengths and weaknesses and highlight how they strive to realise their potential .

    Hundreds more teaching ideas

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