When he was a child, doctors said that Jason Arday would need support all his life, and would have to reside in a specialized living home. However, the 37-year-old just proved them wrong.

He was 11 years old when he was able to pronounce his first words, 18 years old when he was able to learn to read and write. Now, Jason Arday has just been appointed professor of sociology of education at the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge.

One of the youngest teachers

This is a first, and in many respects. In March 2023, Jason Arday has just joined the prestigious University of Cambridge as a professor. He is, at 37, one of the youngest teachers. “My work is mainly focused on how we can open doors for more people from disadvantaged backgrounds and really democratize higher education,” he told the Mirror newspaper. “I hope being in a place like Cambridge will give me the leverage to lead this program nationally and globally,” he added.

Defy the diagnoses

Being appointed to this position was not, for Jason, obvious. As a child, he was diagnosed with a developmental delay that notably affected his ability to speak, read and write. Until he was 11, Jason spoke only sign language and it was only later that he learned to read and write. At 27, the young man wrote on a wall in his bedroom at his parents’ house: “One day, I will work in Oxford or Cambridge”. “I was determined and focused. I knew that would be my goal. On second thought, that’s what I wanted to do,” he commented.

A painful apprenticeship

Jason begins by writing in university journals but, without a mentor or someone showing him how to write, he sees his proposals violently rejected. “The peer review process was so cruel, it was almost funny. I treated it as a learning experience and perversely, I started to enjoy it. During the day he works as a teacher, at night he writes articles and studies. He eventually earned a doctorate in educational studies from Liverpool John Moores University.

A literary career

In 2015, while preparing his doctorate, Jason took the opportunity to co-edit a groundbreaking report for the Runnymede Trust, “Aiming Hight”, on racial and ethnic inequalities in British universities. In 2018, he published his first paper alone. The same year, he obtained a senior lecture at the University of Roehampton before moving on to the University of Durham, where he became an associate professor of sociology. Jason pursued a parallel career at the School of Education at the University of Glasgow, which made him, at the time, one of the youngest teachers in the United Kingdom. Today, proud to be one of 155 of the country’s 23,000 black university professors, Jason continues to write about the black student experience in education and the long-term impacts of discrimination. race in education. He is also the author of works exploring the roots of structural racism in higher education, and the ‘Cool Britannia’ phenomenon of the 1990s from an ethnic minority perspective.

Illiterate until he was 18, he became a professor at a prestigious British university


Maria T.
Maria T.

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