I am so happy that back when I first started going to school (a long, long time ago), that I wasn’t crippled with one of the labels we put on children today. In today’s society, our intentions are really noble, I’m sure, but the effect is to empower failure with a ready-made excuse. You see, we love our children so much that we can’t stand to see them have to struggle. Heaven forbid they should have to learn a lesson by failing. By the way, I failed second grade – best thing (other than discovering beer) that ever happened to me.
In my younger years, I’m sure that one of these “labels” would have been placed on me. You see, I had trouble concentrating/paying attention and couldn’t help but daydream pretty much all through the school day. Today, we would label this child ADHD, and we would “protect him.” I can only imagine as an 8-year-old child being told, “Oh no, honey, you can’t do this or that. You have a disability.” The child is going to believe the caring adults. Additionally, the child is going to get out of leaving to do a lot of things that seem unpleasant (like working on assignments). The crippling has begun.
As we continue this child’s journey through school these “accommodations” continue. These children never get the opportunity to do what I was fortunate enough to do. They never have to adjust themselves; the system carries them along grade after grade until that glorious day they graduate high school.
At that exact point, all these “helping hands” disappear: the boss, sergeant, police and college professor; THEY DON’T CARE. We must find a way to help these kids by NOT helping them. I do, in fact, understand that some children do indeed have issue that needs addressing. However, we are throwing labels around like candy. In fact, it’s my opinion (which I respect) that there are enough labels laying around that everybody should be eligible for between 2-3 of their own. Actually, If you don’t have your fair share of “labels,” then perhaps that is a disability in and of it itself. We could label these people as PWED (People Without Enough Disabilities).
What is actually happening is that we are growing an entire generation of people that will have at their disposal a ready-made excuse to fail.
Mike Brennan is a DCT teacher at Bartow High School.