I think one of my personal flaws is that I’m impulsive, but I also see it as a positive. I am a person of action. Too many times as a parent I was told to ‘wait and see’. If I had waited then my daughter would have gone for another 6-12 months not being able to hear anything. If I had waited and dismissed her behaviour as normal ‘Downsy’ behaviour, her thyroid would have burnt itself out. I believe in being proactive and tackling life face on.
Recently I have encountered three other personality types that seem to emerge in the face of disability. The first is the apathetic individual. I’ve met so many teachers along the way who seem to do less than nothing. They fail to see the marginalisation that occurs, they are oblivious to how much more effort is required from those with disabilities and their families. Apathy is almost forgivable because it comes from ignorance most of the time. It isn’t until you experience the life first hand that apathy becomes passion. Hopefully over time this group of people will learn as they grow older. As we enlighten them and welcome them into our world, they will come to understand that we are all in this together.
Less forgivable is the actively unreceptive individual. In schools this personality can be found in both administration and in the classroom. With their dismissive attitude they willingly deny those with disabilities their God given and legal rights. My anger takes on a physical manifestation when I hear stories of parents trying to enrol their children and not even being able to get past the reception staff. I have heard many of these stories in the last few weeks. I cry with the parents as they express their hurt and confusion, I explain to their child that the fault doesn’t lie with them, but with the adult who have failed them. The problem has been so rife of late that I have taken steps to remind certain individuals of their legal obligations in not discriminating when enrolling new students.
The group that is driving me nuts at the moment is the group of people who happily shake their fist and get angry with me. They talk about doing things differently, say that teaching every student to their ability is not a dream, but a reality we can create in the classroom. Equality of opportunity for all is achievable in their eyes. ‘Let’s try new ways of teaching. Let’s use technology’ they say. Then come the morning they do the same old thing. Nothing changes. When students can’t complete the set task they commiserate and say they will plan better next time. Some students are bored, others disengaged. They aren’t able to be their best.
The reason I’m so frustrated by this group is that I think they hold back the cause more than the others. Ignorance can be remedied with knowledge and compassion. Discrimination can be corrected by law. However, it is hard to gather momentum when others are dragging their heels. The old idiom of leading a horse to water, well, I guess we just need to keep leading them to newer, cleaner watering holes. It would be easy to have others take away our forward motion but if through consistency we can inspire others, drag them into the light, then forward we shall go, better we shall become. I spend my days wanting better, trying to do better. I will spend my life trying to be better.