Oliver Knott excelled in all of his schooling, from his childhood grammar school all throughout University. But his younger brother didn’t. It was this experience, he told us in this episode, that shaped Oliver’s world view and eventually, his professional trajectory leading up to his current position as International Account Manager for International Dyslexia Learning Solutions.
Two Brothers, Two Different Learning Paths
Oliver happens to be great at exams. He sailed through his entrance exams for admittance to the local and prestigious grammar school. But when it came time for his brother to try, he told us in our interview that it was evident from the beginning that the path Oliver took wouldn’t apply to him. The school day often ended in tears, his self-esteem took a beating and it seemed like things would just always be a little harder for him. This was baffling to Oliver, who always knew how brilliant his brother was. It wasn’t until he was tested in the Royal Navy at age 21 that he was diagnosed with dyslexia and all of the puzzle pieces began to fall into place.
Supermarket School of Life
If Oliver’s brother’s experience was his wake-up call, his stint working at a grocery store was his real-world application. Though Oliver is transparent in this episode about being raised with privilege, his parents instilled in him an appreciation of hard work and integrity. When he needed a job, he found employment at a supermarket in a lower-economic neighborhood. It was here, he told us, that he was exposed to diverse backgrounds and learning differences. He was also captivated by the lack of hope that seemed to be pervasive throughout the town. All opportunities led away from the town itself, leaving the community devastated over and over again. “Working there really enlightened me,” he said. He became consumed with the thought of making education accessible and equitable for those with neurodiversity.
1 in 5 people is dyslexic. It was this knowledge that encouraged the development of International Dyslexia Learning Solutions, where Oliver works today. What began as a pipedream became an active institution that advocates and provides services and resources to support those who are learning diverse- for free. What IDL has to offer is equitable for every student. Oliver makes sure of it.
Oliver’s brother is now a successful engineer working with renewable energy. Oliver’s made it his mission that no student would ever again have to have the troubling start his brother had.
If you want to hear more about how education in the UK has become more inclusive of neurodiverse learners, the resources Oliver is developing to ensure free screening for all students, and more on looking at learning differences through an asset lens and not a deficit lens, listen to the full episode.