by Jack Mallon
Now it might seem ironic to see someone like Sir Jackie Stewart giving an inspirational speech on education at a university. The three-time Formula One world champion left school at 15 without many formal qualifications, due to his undiagnosed dyslexia.
However, in an interview with Brig, Stewart made in clear why he makes such an effort to inspire the next generation in higher formal education.
He considers the loss of education in his earlier years the greatest loss of his life, stating that: “The teachers in those days weren’t trained to recognise learning disabilities. They would never say anything other than you were dumb, thick or stupid.”
However, that hasn’t held back the ever youthful Jackie. When asked why he accepted the honorary Professorship at Stirling in 1988 he responded: “I like being around young people. It is so invigorating for me, and I’m envious about being able to see young people develop their futures”
And his passion for inspiring those in higher learning has been stimulated by academic success within his own family: “My son attended Duke University in America, and my grandson is currently studying there as well”
Since his own diagnosis with dyslexia in 1980 he has seen understanding and accommodation of dyslexia sufferers grow considerably; “It is a disability – there is no doubt about it. But I’ve learned to cope with it much more since my diagnosis”
As Sir Jackie continues his tour of universities, one hopes that the challenges that he faced in his education will be addressed by this coming generation of academics.