The Story of Leslie Whiting

Leslie Whiting was a student of the 50’s and early 60’s.  He was a quiet student and was often placed in the corner of the classroom wearing “the Dunce’s hat”.  It was normal in those days to make children feel stupid because they could not do something in class.

Leslie often wore the dunces hat because he couldn’t spell or write very well.   He was good at Maths, but that was overshadowed by his poor literacy skills.

Because of his perceived lack of intelligence, he was not encouraged to sit any exams. He left school at 15 to start an apprenticeship as a Barber.   By this time Leslie agreed with school, that he was thick and stupid and would never amount to anything, all because he could not spell very well.


Imagine the difference it would have made to Leslie if he had attended a school where all his strengths were recognised, and his weaknesses were just seen as differences.  A school that let him play to his strengths; how would he have felt leaving school?

It seems ridiculous to think that Leslie’s academic ability was measured by what he could not do and not by what he could do.

It reminds me of an exert I read in a book recently.

The Animal School by Dr R.H. Reeves.

In this school they adopted a curriculum consisting of running, climbing, swimming, and flying.  To make it easier to administer, all animals took all subjects.

Attending the school were Rabbits, Squirrels, Ducks and Eagles.

The Rabbit was good at running, attempted climbing and swimming but could not fly.  He was a failure because he could only run well.

The Squirrel was good at climbing and running but swimming and flying were not for him.  He was a failure because he was only good at climbing and running.

The duck was an excellent swimmer, could fly and run but could not climb.  He was a failure because he could only swim, fly and waddle.

The eagle was viewed as the problem child because he good fly brilliantly and did not see the point of the other activities, as he didn’t need them to survive.  He was a failure because he would not do all of the activities.

Reading this exert it is obvious to us that a rabbit cannot fly, or a duck climb a tree and we do not think any less of the eagle for following his own strengths.  Each animal has their own strengths, and this is what makes them unique.

Back to Leslie.

Leslie really enjoyed his apprenticeship and found cutting hair was easy and enjoyable.  The customers loved him, and he could speak to anyone about anything.  He was a great listener and learnt about his customers lives.

As he became more experienced his boss showed him how to manage the banking and the accounts, he took to it like a duck to water.  His boss managed anything that required writing and spelling and they were a great team.

When his boss retired, he gave the business to Leslie.  That is how much Jack, his boss, thought of him.  Leslie had been a hardworking and loyal employee who had never had a sick day in 30 years.

Leslie was now a business owner and employed staff, trained up apprentices and managed the business accounts.  Very far removed from the young boy wearing a dunce’s hat in school.

However inside Leslie remained that little boy who still though he was not good enough.  He never saw his successes as they truly were, he just believed he had been lucky at work.

This lack of self-belief lived with Leslie, all his life.  Sadly, when someone doesn’t believe in themselves others can take advantage of their lack of confidence.  Leslie was bullied in his private life by his last wife.  She belittled him at every opportunity and took great pleasure in pointing out his errors in writing.

Why didn’t he leave her you may well ask?  Because he believed everything she told him!

The scars from school lived with him a lifetime and he died in 2019 still believing he was not good enough.

Leslie Whiting and students like him, are the reason why I work with teenagers.  No one should leave school feeling a failure and no one should leave school unable to recognise their own strengths and natural learning ability.

I believe everyone can learn and they can leave school knowing they have the skills to succeed.  Whether that is becoming a brain surgeon, an actor, artist or gardener it doesn’t matter.  That they believe in themselves is the most important thing to me.

Our education system wants everyone to be good at everything, and when said like that, it sounds like complete madness.

Everything I do is with Leslie Whiting in mind because Leslie Whiting was my dad.  He was an amazing man with so many strengths, overshadowed by his limiting beliefs that he was not good enough.

If you have a teenager who is struggling and not showing their true potential or perhaps have a teenager who believes they cannot learn, then I can help.  Together we will discover how they naturally learn and how to use this knowledge to grow in confidence and believe that they can succeed.

Do not let your teenager become a Leslie Whiting.  No one deserves to live their life feeling a failure.

My dad always said that if he’d had someone like me when he was at school, he would have grown up knowing his strengths and his life would have been different.

The Study Success Programme is designed with Dad in mind.  If the programme had been available to him as a teenager, he’d have known how he learnt and realised his full potential.

Take a look at the Study Success Programme 2.0 (link to website page) and see what it could do for your teenager.

I can guarantee it will make a positive difference to their learning experience, for now and for ever.


Sign-up for our communications

By submitting this form you are agreeing to us processing your data and sending you communications. For full details of how we process data please review our Privacy Policy.