There a saying that “ignorance is bliss,” which means that what you don’t know can’t hurt you.
Well, in a nutshell, that was my education when I was growing up: full of ignorant educators. As I mentioned in my last piece, growing up in the 80’s and 90’s was sometimes very challenging when I was the only child with any kind of physical disability in my community. I ended up teaching those who should have been teaching me because they were so ignorant about teaching someone they didn’t understand.
My family instilled in me that everything you do in life is a teachable moment, whether someone is teaching me, or I’m teaching someone.
I see my whole life as a teachable moment.
My teachable moment started at such a young age that teaching others became the normal for me. Between 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades, at the beginning of every school year, I would go into my homeroom with my physical or occupational therapist and talk about how even though I was somewhat different on the outside, I was just like other kids on the inside. I was a kid who could do all the “kid things,” but only on my own timeline. I just remember how hard it was to stand in front of those classes. In the end, though, it helped so much because, for the most part, the other kids treated me like one of them.
I personally got along with the boys better than the girls because as a girl, there were situations I just didn’t feel that I fit into because of my cerebral palsy. These days, I still feel this way at times. On the other hand, I should have stood in front of the educators with my therapists and told them not be ignorant about my disability. There were teachers who didn’t want me in their classrooms because they didn’t see the point of me being there.
They didn’t think I was teachable.
This did get me down, but if you know me, you know that I don’t stay down for too long. Every time something like this happened, my parents would say that the biggest disability I would have to overcome is ignorant people, and boy, were they right! The educators also didn’t want me in the lunchroom because of way my cerebral palsy made me chew.
By the end of my 5th grade year, the teacher who didn’t think I was teachable had a change of heart because I taught her a lot. We also learned that we had the same birthday, and we ended up being good friends. Nowadays, she is my Facebook friend, and whenever she is in the area, we meet up for lunch.
In the end, I wasn’t only proud because I was an honors student.
I was proud because I educated those ignorant educators. I showed them that my cerebral palsy didn’t mean I wasn’t teachable or smart and that they had to take the time to learn how to teach me. My intelligence always shocked the educators to the point where, at the end of the year, they would come up my family and I and say “Thank you. Having her in my class made me a better educator.”