An article in the The London England Standard highlights renowned poet Benjamin Zephaniah's stance on literacy and the education system, stating:

Benjamin Zephaniah called on parents, teachers and pupils to be more "collaborative" to stop children slipping through the net - and revealed he was failed by a teacher who dismissed his dyslexia.

Zephaniah speaks from experience, telling the The Standard the following:

"I was in primary school reading class one day and I was struggling. I thought everyone else was struggling and I started looking out of the window at the boys playing football. The teacher said to me that not everyone can be good with words or reading and said I could be good at football and sent me out. I thought it was great at the time, but it's only looking back that I think how the teacher had failed me."

Bummer. Zephaniah goes on to speak about his experiences teaching in India and China:

"They make sure no child slips behind and if there are 30 children in a class and one is struggling then the others help out. They all rise up together."

He also speaks to the importance of literacy beyond the classroom:

"I once signed the rights away on a record contract because I couldn't read."

"Now kids say to me that they don't need to read or write because they can freestyle [rap]."

"I tell them they need to be able to read the contract or they will be ripped off. Lots of them are like me."

An interview with Zephaniah from the British production of The People Speak, a people’s history of Britain inspired by the work of the late historian Howard Zinn can be found here.

Originally Published: June 2nd, 2011