The Footnotes Story

Oliver has been applying his Footnotes strategies across the field of education since 1998. Having struggled as a dyslexic visual thinking child and young adult, learning to respond within a linear structured education system, he subsequently developed a collection of techniques and ideas that have been helping visual and multilayered thinkers navigate traditional linear-lexical teaching methods. These have been adopted all over the world, and shared with education policy makers in various countries, including advising specialised international curriculums. Even though Footnotes is involved on this level, the individual is never forgotten in the process.

With this approach, Footnotes has succeeded by putting less emphasis on traditionally established ways of thinking. By using a non-linear, visual approach to thinking and communication, the more creative aspects of the brain are unlocked. The extra activity engages the brain in ‘dual processing’: a state of “busyness” that stops one from being over analytical and, ironically, helps those who are easily distracted to focus. This approach — which went on to develop and later become known as ‘Footnotes’ — seemed to provide a way for people to move beyond the limitations that they imposed on themselves, or have had imposed on them, “getting out of their own way” to open new doors in thinking and creating.

Since that time the applications for the technique have been developed and adapted, and are no longer just used with young people, or just in education or for those with so-called learning challenges. Footnotes is at work within all age groups, benefitting all kinds of people, and applied to any field, including enterprise, social care, community work and humanitarian aid.

We now train teachers and other professionals from all over the world. In addition, the establishment of ‘Footnotes Reach’ — a project that takes Footnotes into under-served communities around the world — has seen Footnotes successfully used to help resolve complex social and education problems in South Africa, and support refugees in various countries in the Middle East, with invitations to new countries coming in all the time. This has opened up opportunities for Footnotes trainees and users to travel into these locations, bringing strategies for hope, reconciliation and empowerment whilst also developing skills of their own that can be applied at home.

The future holds many exciting possibilities, with the expansion of Footnotes Reach into new locations, and the widespread rolling out of the Facilitator modular training programme, designed to give accreditation for individuals to operate under the Footnotes banner within their own particular sphere of expertise.

As more people discover Footnotes they find they are not just learning a skill but finding a new way of life, and many of them choose to stay connected to the Footnotes Community. Who knows, that might include you?