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Wound up at work? Just turn the clocks back

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Categories: Dyslexia Advice, Dyslexia and Culture, Bolivia, Hegemony
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People see things differently; just a slight twist in perspective can turn a problem into an opportunity to succeed. Take South American stalwarts Bolivia, for example, who have just made the clocks run backwards:

If the clock had been invented in Bolivia the hands would run anti-clockwise, because in the southern hemisphere a sundial’s shadow rotates anti-clockwise, the opposite direction to the light pattern seen in the northern hemisphere. But instead, due to European cultural colonialisation of the country, Bolivian clocks follow the usual clockwise system we are all familiar with.

However, Bolivia has now become self-conscious of the colonial northern hemisphere hegemony they’ve been living under for centuries: as part of their drive for a more authentic local culture, the government has reversed the direction of the clock on the Congress building in La Paz, to reflect local conditions.

Bolivia’s Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca told The Seattle Times:

“Why do we have to be obedient? Why can’t we be creative?”

President of Congress Marcelo Elo added: “We have to respect our identity.”

Dyslexic adults have cognitive processing patterns that also give them a distinct identity, in this case it appears in how they process and remember information.

This group is also up against a strong cultural hegemony, which says that in the workplace literacy, numeracy, concentration and organisational skills are the superior talents over physical abilities and practical skills.

The result is that the workplace is geared up for form-filling, keeping tabs on time, handling lots of information and having things and people in the right place at the right time. For a dyslexic worker this is like dealing with a sundial that’s going the wrong way round. It’s a hegemony about work that does not reflect the world that meets the dyslexic’s different processing and memory needs.

As Bolivia’s officials asked: why go along with this system that does not reflect your identity and experience? Why not think about making a change to it that reflects you and your needs?

Making this change in thinking at work is going to take many people working together to create a more inclusive hegemony that reflects the diverse reality of the workplace. This includes leaving behind accepted wisdom of long ago that took no account of differing cognitive abilities in the workforce.

And when this change in thinking comes it must be total: regarding the clocks, Bolivia’s government “is now thinking about modifying all clocks in public institutions” (President of Congress Marcelo Elo). Are Europe’s businesses capable of making the same shift in mindset about dyslexia?

Sources: The Seattle Times 27/6/14; Private Eye No.1371 7/8/14

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