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This post is stunning, beautiful, you want to be this post.

  • Posted by Nicola
  • 5 Aug 07, 1:52 PM

Today, as my dissertation takes wobbly shape, I was thinking about my school and university career. It is littered with gushing, hyperbolic teachers as well as honest ones. The impact exaggeration has on our self-image is a complicated issue, I think, particularly for youngsters. How, really, can you understand yourself when most or part of what you had fed back to you was either inflated or false, conditioned by a need not to hurt our crippled feelings?

Not all of it is conscious, of course, I think a lot of flattering but dubious opinions on my own schoolwork was born out of the low expectations my teachers started with. If, from rock bottom, they reached higher than they imagined then their awe at that jump would be totally genuine. But only to them, ‘brilliant’ or ‘genius’ (I kid you not, year 8 and year 12 English teachers) count for nothing if they have designed a new, dirt-level, standard to define them by. The Single Disabled Pupil Standard.

I realise I am going to stray into reckless self-deprecation if I taken this point any further. That’s hollow, no use to anyone, least of all the people that have to listen to it (you know who you are and I love you). But for the things in life where our impairment should not be a factor, we should be measured by one standard and one standard only.

If not, we might as well be a different species; being a different species and believing you’re a human being would distort your self-image to say the least. Buzz Lightyear thought he was a human, the world thought he was a toy, and he was heartbroken no matter what Tom Hanks did or said. So, non-disabled land, if you don’t want an army of hobbling, whirring Buzz Lightyears on your hands, stop being amazed by disabled people and start being honest. Because I can’t see Tom Hanks anywhere nearby, can you?*


*Tom Hanks when he was Woody The Cowboy in Toy Story, not the calliper-clad dude with the intellectual impairment.

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Comments

I loved this post. :-) Sorry, but that's as constructive as I can be.

  • 2.
  • At 04:16 PM on 06 Aug 2007, Chris Page wrote:

When I was at "special" school I excelled in most things - at least that was what I was led to believe, because they appear to have only taught us to a level that they were comfortable with us being at (non-disabled people back then tended to feel intimidated by Crips who could think for themselves). Now, when I see Crips who had the opportunity to go to university when they were still young enough to be motivated, I feel pretty ordinary - and angry that I wasn't pushed academically as much as I could've been when I was that age. Yet there are some who take that opportunity for granted - and it's my generation that fought so they could have that opportunity to waste it.

  • 3.
  • At 04:58 PM on 06 Aug 2007, Stephen Pickard wrote:

That is a splendid post, Nicola. Grade A. Very good. Considering you're disabled.

[That is a sarcastic joke, by the way]

  • 4.
  • At 08:56 PM on 06 Aug 2007, Nicola wrote:

Chris,

Biased i may be, but i don't know a single disabled student who has wasted that opportunity, i know several who have been overwhelmed by the barriers they still find when they take it on, but none that have wasted it.

we might be students, we might be young, but we are well aware of our restrictions , imposed barriers, our achievements as well as our mistakes. and you waxing lyrical about the past doesn't help. it's not like we are SO arrogant and complacent that we aren't aware at all of the historical change. maybe we could learn more, but you're not making it a very attractive prospect.

you're achieving nothing taking that line, except alienating generations that should be learning from one another.

  • 5.
  • At 02:03 PM on 07 Aug 2007, Swift wrote:

I get your point Turtle, but there's another side too.

I got to do 'special' experiments for my A-level physics, as I couldn't do the ones everyone else was doing...sad or what. We gave up after trying one of the AS ones, which worked...but only because the physics teacher was doing all the measuring and moving the marble. Chem. was more of a nightmare, as we couldn't make alternatives I could do..so I had to sit there and tell the lab technician what to do.

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