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skills and tools for easier learning

Inspiring true stories

Keeping focused on memory improvement, or getting on top of stress, is hard to do so we all need some encouragement from time to time. On this page I've begun to share success stories that inspired me and may help you too.

My thanks to a reader from the USA who has been the first to provide a story for this page. It's an extraordinary one. I hope to gather many more over the coming months.

If you have a story to tell, even a small one, click here.


Christopher, from Maine, USA

I am 36 year old dyslexic who did not get diagnosed until I was 20 years of age and in college. I "made it" so to speak via brutal hours of study and attempting to overcome confusion. Further, my memory is like steel: tough to engrave and tough to polish out.

I knew I had something wrong due to having speech therapy and handwriting lessons until I was 15 years old. Further, I would receive an " A" in physics and a " D" in English and was constantly confused by simple academics and basic life stuff! I was the 13th student in 11 years to earn an " A" in my University in an Advanced Macroeconomics Course. The material was structured properly by the professor. I realized at that point in time that I might not be stupid. The key to my succeeding in a class was how I could structure information.

I needed to get out and earn a living and could not wait or be put in a special program for dyslexics or "special needs" kids, so I pressed on. This lead me to research thinking skills which brought me to Edward deBono, Jack Lochead & Arthur Whimbey '"Beyond Thinking and Comprehension" , 13 Thinking Skills, The Complete Problem Solver - those types of books.

I plugged away to three college degrees, one being a Masters in Business, at decent colleges. I read about 100 words a minute and had to cheat by getting the syllabus ahead of the class and doing the reading prior to taking the course, but it worked.

Currently I am taking a calculus series and got an "A" in the first course. It required a lot of review prior to getting into the course and overcoming my anxiety of flunking it in college, plugging away to obtain a " B" in two applied calculus courses. This again is a self-induced experiment under non-optimal conditions - work & family.

I am not a scientist but I believe dyslexia and other learning problems are structuring problems and, once structured, you improve. For example, I once substitute taught for a day about 10 years ago (needed the money) at the elementary level, fourth grade. Primarily a babysitting job until the educator got back to school. Well, I was brought a boy who could not add or subtract. Within the hour he could add, subtract, multiply, and divide. I now realize that I figured out his gaps and confusion and restructured that with meaning. The head of the program asked me how I did it. I had him notice the patterns and relationships between the techniques pointing out that they are all related.

As I read "A new focus for memory improvement" I thought to myself," That is what I do!" You have hit a bullseye.

Matthew Leitch comments: Even if you forget about Christopher's dyslexia this is an impressive story of concentrated effort using good cognitive skills. When you take into account the dyslexia I find this very inspiring. Notice that the books on learning he read are mostly good quality, psychology-based work rather than the usual memory improvement nonsense about visual associative mnemonics.

  Words © 2003 Matthew Leitch