My son Dr Nicholas Letchford – DPhil. (OXF) BSc. (Hons) B.Eng. (Hons) UTAS – has brilliant memories from studying at the University of Tasmania (2007-12) and living at Jane Franklin Hall. Nicholas’s passion for learning, intense curiosity, and astonishing spatial awareness shone in Hobart. His numerous degrees suggest he should have been the top of his class through his early education. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. Read the rest here…



The Unexpected Journey of Becoming a Writer

My sixth-grade teacher peered over my shoulder, handing back my essay. The ordinarily white paper with black pencil writing was covered with acres of red pen; each mark a new humiliation and evidence of failure. My teacher pointed to each correction mark, loudly stating, “How am I supposed to read this mess? You cannot write, Lois.”

It’s funny how a comment made at twelve years old could haunt me forever. Despite this prognosis, however, I went onto college and became a physical education teacher, learning—as an undiagnosed dyslexic—to read and write. Read the rest here…


Learning is Not Just Measurable. It’s Emotional.

I’ve written about my son Nicholas before (read it here). He is now Dr. Nicholas Letchford, DPhil (Oxon) BSc (Hons) BEng (Hons) UTas.

But, he was once the “worst child seen in 20 years of teaching.” The school diagnostician branded him with this label…at seven years old.

Nicholas, now thirty, is a confident, delightful, knowledgeable man, and married to an equally wonderful woman, Lakshmi. He talks with passion about mathematics, engineering, and the challenges of the modern world.

It is only when I ask him about his early schooling education that he seems to shut down. Read the rest here…


Overcoming the Odds: Outsider to Oxford (Part I)

My son failed the first grade. At seven years old, the school diagnostician said he’d never learn. Testing demonstrated he had no strengths, could only read ten words, and had a low IQ. Staring into space was his way of coping with a classroom in which he didn’t belong. These were the reasons Nicholas failed in school.

The prognosis for such a child is poor. My husband took study leave in Oxford from our hometown in Australia. I used this opportunity for me to work one-on-one with Nicholas, away from the school setting, for just six short months. Being in a new environment and having no set curriculum, I began teaching with a series of books claiming, “Success for all.”

Yet, I failed. The books failed. And Nicholas failed.

One day my mother-in-law offered a different perspective, telling me simple words I’d never forget. “Make learning fun, Lois.”

Her words caused me to stop and re-think. Read the rest here…

Overcoming the Odds: Outsider to Oxford (Part II)

On a clear, beautiful winter’s day in Brisbane in July 1999, my family flew to Texas for my husband’s new job.  Flying into Lubbock, one sees a flat, ominous brown land which appears to stretch forever.

In August, we enrolled Nicholas in school on a day where the thermometer hovered at 104 F. The air conditioning was a refreshing relief as the principal welcomed us and discussed possible options for Nicholas’ future. In an unusual move, she suggested Nicholas not enter the fifth grade, but instead join the fourth graders.

“Won’t he be old when he graduates?” my husband questioned.

“Yes,” she considered, her red fingernails tapping on the table, “we have a class in middle school which allows students to do grade seven, eight, and nine in two years. He could catch up here.”

And this is exactly what transpired. Nicholas had more time in the elementary school, a shorter time in middle school, and by high school, very few knew he had learning difficulties. Read the rest here…