Thursday, 1 June 2017

On dyslexia, university open days, and the awkwardness of having to answer how hot a woman is when you're gay.

There are fewer greater ironies then a writer with dyslexia.

Further to that point, who is the cruel bastard that decided that dyslexia should be spelt “D-Y-S-L-E-X-I-A.” Did he/she have a unique person level of masochism that only affects a specific group of the population? Does this person get off – in some weirdly perverted way- from knowing that there are guys and girls like me all around the world that struggle with spelling, grammar and keeping sentences in one fucking place (I describe mine as herding cats; they go wherever the goddamn hell they please but will eventually sleep in a warm place), or keeping an sentence together?

Because he or she has fucked us all over, with that spelling......I swear, anyone with dyslexia has memorised that word for the one moment we have to write about it on a form.

Though…I must say I’m more of stealthy one, I can get by. I can read a new form or page. I just let the cats settle down. If someone asks if I’m doing alright, I just say, “yes…..just one more moment.”
Then I would go on some made up story of how when I was in school, I had an English teacher who used to be a lawyer and taught us to read everything carefully…this was so drilled into me, that it’s become a habit for me, “I hope you don’t mind.” Often this ends with a toothy grin delivered  by me, and an equally toothy grin passed back to me…I see in the other persons eyes, a certain unique fear that only manifests itself when people see my mouth open wide…they never know if they should call the police or National Geographic.

Side-side note…when is “the” capitalised and how far north does one have to go before it disappears from the English language?

But, back to the main point. University.

So, as you know, I’ve every intention of becoming the next Derren Brown, just more northern and less charming, and one of the ways I will be achieving this monumental feat is by studying Psychology (the continuing irony dyslexia provides for my life will often manifest itself in an inability to spell a subject that I feel very passionate about and want to study at a University level.
To help me work out where I’m going, I’ve attend a number of open days, a wise course of action.
In time, you will learn that these are quite rare. 

Last week, I went to Northampton Uni open day.  Which I must say was a blast, I was really happy with what I learnt when I visited and found the campus to be quite beautiful. It was also a help having Jon with me as this was where he studied a few years back.

So we had a look around, Jon pointing out a few of the buildings, what they were for and having a happy reminisces over them. It was lovely, and later, we proceeded to scheduled tester session for Psychology.

Of course, in typical Thunder fashion, not only did we get slightly lost, but we were also the first ones there. I must say, that’s a very rare combination for someone.

I am the only person that can arrive early and get lost at the same time.

At the session, we first met Steven Kilpatrick, a man who gained my respect instantly by colour coordinating his jumper, exactly, to the yellow colour scheme of Northampton and more so, to the yellow power point that was ready to go.

This respect only grew, when he descried to fuck with those who were arriving after us, by asking if they were here for some completely different subject, and then taking an internal jump of glee when they stopped dead in their tracks and questioned their entire existence.

“Are you here for Nursing…Computer Programming…Biochemical Engineering?.”

The hilarity continued when I realised, that at the tender lamb like age of 24, that I was one of the oldest in the room.

There were a few parents but aside from them…I could have adopted them all as my children and have the start of a slave army.

I’m sure noone would mind.

The required level of politeness was exchanged and we talked briefly about psychology and what brought us here…who had the longest journey…who nearly didn’t make it, and so much more small talk that Phillip Schofield would be proud.

Moving on the content of the session, it came in three parts.

The first part was an introduction the department and the University, Steven, and a second tutor, Alistair talked about how they first got into psychology, how they got into the position they are in now, and projects they are, or have worked on.

The second and third part required the main group to be spilt into two. One half went with Alistair to do his part of the talk, and myself and Jon stayed with the rest.

Steven then talked about the course and what each unit will look like and that the option of taking joint honours and still being able BPS accreditation, this has slammed open a tonne of doors for me and I will talk more about his later on in the document.

He then moved on to talk about attraction, and to illustrate a section of psychology that looks at our behaviour from an evolutionary point of view. Steven show us two photos of two different men and asked the women in the room to pick which on they found attractive. With both examples, they went for the slightly older, more alpha looking male, then the younger baby face one.

To further run that point home, Steven also showed use two photos of David Beckham. One from when he was in his late teens, and one from very recently. They all agreed that he looked a lot better now.

He then moved on to showing us two pictures of woman and asked the guys in the room, which one they would find more attractive.

They answered, and pretty much most of them went for the younger more fertile female. He then asked me what I thought as I didn’t vote in that round. I leaned back my chair, crossed my legs and looked him straight in the eye

“This is slightly awkward, I’m terribly sorry about this, but I’m gay.” 

The entire room burst in the a gut wrenching laughter, that’s only seen when bankers fuck a load of people over to make more money, or when equally undesirable gentleman share champagne over their latest plan of world domination.

Steven looked rather shocked and mortified…I tried to reassure him that all was fine, but my efforts were lost of the roar of the would be Sigmund Freud.

I let myself giggle a bit and then came out with the comment that the younger woman on the left looked as if she’d sucked a lemon.

As the laughter died down, I then shared an observation that I had made in which, some women of a younger age would prefer the baby face example as this can help to kick in a certain amount of mothering instincts and is also part of the reason why record labels and media use younger guys to help sell records. I just need to point you in the direction of Justin Bieber concert to illustrate my point.

Instead of shooting me down, or telling me I’m wrong or cussing at me for running his plan to take over the world, Steven said that my point was valid and the bringing another perspective to this discussion is what psychology is all about. There are very few wrong answers as this subject is more about understanding and interpreting what we have observed.

The final part saw us swap rooms and swap tutors. Alistair lead this one and began talking about amputees and how some have experienced, what they can only describe as “phantom limbs” and he then went on to talk about therians describing how they feel as if they are part animal in spirt and then, how this got people thinking about the brain processes input and how we can fool the brain in to thinking something is there, or not there, and then using this to start development of different technologies, one of which is to find a way for surgeons to remotely operate on someone in space.
To do this, he showed us the Rubber Hand experiment (read illusion) in which the brain can be fooled into thinking that the rubber hand that they can see is their real hand.  The following video can explain it far better than I can.

And you may ask, dear Tommy boy. 

What does psychology have to do with making technology? 

After all, tech is a bunch of wires and ones and zero. The answer is that by looking at how the brain processes input, we may be able to find ways to have this tech provide tactile feedback to surgeon and at the same time be able to have the equipment move, as if it was the surgeons real hand, in such a way, that it would be like they were there, next to their patent and not on the ground. 

This is what I love, working shit out, making links between two separate things and bringing different disciplines together to make something amazing.

I talked afterwards to Alistair, who helped me to process what we talked about, but also talk about our options at Uni and to the fact that I now know that I can do a joint honours. I had grown accustomed to only doing Psychology, or the ever so popular Psychology, Counselling and Therapies.

In fact, I grew so accustomed to this fact that I never even looked into studying something else alongside. 

This, has given me a lot to consider. I did some considering over a big lunch and I’ve worked out a shortlist of subjects that I am interested in:

Education Studies – This could be useful, should I chose to go into teaching. Though I ask myself, while I entertain the idea of me being some kind of college or uni lecturer at some point in the future, it it what I want to focus my career on.

English – I love writing and I love reading, so you would think that this is a perfect choice for me, but I have two worries. The first, is it going to be useful to me and the second, is my dyslexia going to get in the way?

Media Production and Moving Image – This seems interesting, and certainly one of the more “out there” subjects. I did speak to friend who did that course, and he didn’t give it a great review. I ask myself, how much interest will I have in it, and how useful will it be to me. 

Drama – My very first love, and the only thing at GCSE that I got an A in, and what I originally studied at college. I do generally enjoy drama, and I loved being on the stage. It is certainly something that I can a lot of common ground in between the two disciplines and there is no doubt that I will enjoy it. But again, how useful will it be to me?

Heath Studies – Probably the most relevant and useful to me at this moment in time, given my occupation as a care worker and interest in caring for people. But is care what I want to be doing in ten year’s time and how much interest will I have when I study it.

Sociology – This one is interesting and ties in so close to psychology, you’d think they were brothers. It is certainly interesting and it could be useful in my career. I will need do more research on it.

Criminology – Another interesting one and very useful to have for my career. It also seems to go hand in hand with psychology and could lead me down some interesting routes.

Multimedia Journalism – an old love that turned into a loath…I know I’m good at journalism, but I left the career because I was fed up with cheap second rate, copy and paste articles getting all the ad revenue, when well written and relevant pieces were left by the way side. – must not turn this into a rant. I certainly find this interesting, and while it could be useful. I don’t see myself going down that route, and worry that I’d just be repeating what I leaned on the field.

Social Care – like Heath Care, this can be useful, but again, how much interest do I have?…More research is needed for this as well.

I’m most certainly going back to other open days to learn more about these subjects and help consider my options. 

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