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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in stereotypes

Posted by on in What If?

Yesterday, in my child development class, one of the students was curious about why people use the term, “terrible twos.” Instead of the automatic response I could have given, I decided maybe this was a good opportunity to clear the air about the second twelve months of a little child’s life.

It seems that age group gets a bad rap at every turn. Sure, we hear some negative comments about senior citizens (“old codgers,” “senile,” blue hairs”). And, for sure, millennials receive a good deal of criticism, too (“snowflakes, “trophy kids,” “entitled”). But usually, those attributes are individually earned and not always the immediate reaction upon hearing the general designation.

           old man                     millenn

The title of Twos, on the other hand, receives an on-the-spot heavy sigh, some snide remarks, and expressions of sympathy for the parents and caregivers. Not fair, I say. Because… although Twos are definitely a different animal, they are not really all that terrible.

I see Twos as being both a baby and a little child… with the benefits of both, including lots of cuddles, still being under a degree of parental control, having independence, and the ability to communicate. Plus, you don’t have many of the unfavorable aspects of either of these stages… the continual arguing over why we can’t wear a flimsy Halloween costume when it’s only 12 degrees outside or the constant needs of an infant.

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Posted by on in Education Resources

wheelchair

"Frustration" is probably the best word that can be used to describe my feeling after watching the film adaptation of JoJo Moyes' Me Before You. The film centers on William Traynor, a man who sustains a disability after an accident, and who ultimately (spoiler) chooses assisted suicide over life in a wheelchair. The film came under fire by critics for perpetuating harmful, inaccurate stereotypes about people with disabilities. Indeed, Me Before You would have us believe that people with quadriplegia are asexual beings who cannot enjoy truly robust lives. And who can't visit Paris for some reason.

Me Before You was clearly written by someone who has little experience with disabilities in the same way that, say, Heart of Darkness was composed by someone who had very little interaction with Congolese natives. I wonder, though, how many students out there would be able to recognize the problematic nature of the text. Or how many would walk away from the film feeling mere pity for those with spinal cord injuries? Likewise, how many students who read John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men are troubled by the ending and skeptical of Steinbeck's portrayal of intellectual disabilities? How many see Lennie as an animal-like creature whose death was inevitable?

How many students have only been exposed to what Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie calls a "single story" about disabilities?

Education provides us with a vehicle for breaking down stereotypes and for exploring difference - or perceived difference. Here is one activity that can help teachers to lay a groundwork for helping students to recognize and counter disability stereotypes.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

Screen Shot 2016 07 06 at 10.26.03 AM

So there we were. It was Friday morning and the kick-off to 4th of July weekend. I just finished up an 8-mile run on the bridge, boardwalk, and beach and returned to the beach house. I figured I would eat something, take a quick shower, and head out for a nice beach day with my wife, son, his mom-mom, and his grandmom (great grandma). Instead, I walked into a conversation about taking our 2.5 year old son to the nearest Urgent Care. He had a fever a few days earlier, but it seemed like he recovered. Now he started developing a rash on his hands and feet. It was hurting him to walk and he was very fussy. We discussed, decided, and off to the doctor we went.

Let me start by saying that our little guy was an absolute champ waiting for over an hour in the waiting room. We finally got into a room and saw the nurse who gave us a diagnosis within 2 minutes of talking to us. Hand, foot, and mouth disease, which is a virus that includes a rash and painful blisters. The nurse told us it would clear up on its own and that we just had to wait things out. She was awesome with Landon and interacted with him in a way that was genuine and caring. She asked if he liked stickers and of course he said yes! What kid doesn't like stickers? She left us to wait for the doctor and frantically Google everything about the virus while she retrieved the goodies for Landon.

A few minutes had passed and the nurse re-entered the room with the promised treat. Landon had a choice between Mickey Mouse and Toy Story stickers. Not surprisingly, he went right for the Toy Story set. The nurse informed him that he could pick any two that he liked. His first pick was Buzz Lightyear because he's a pretty awesome spaceman. His next choice was Bo Peep, or at least that was what he wanted. He pointed at the picture with a cute doll wearing a pink dress in a bright purple background and asked for that sticker. Without flinching, the nurse immediately countered his request and asked him if he wanted Rex, the dinosaur. Landon was in a very compromising mood (blame it on not feeling well) and he took the different sticker with no issue. Mommy and Daddy, however, felt differently.

Landon's favorite color is purple with pink coming in a close second. When we went mini-golfing with him the night before, he chose a purple ball for himself. Items that are purple and pink always get top priority with him. Ask him what his favorite color is and he will tell you it is purple with a big smile on his face. If he wants something purple (or pink or any color for that matter), he can have it. It doesn't matter to us what colors he likes. He knows what he likes. So why would the nurse deny him the sticker that he really wanted?

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