Labels: The Good,
the Bad and the Ugly
I am always amazed as an educator and parent when
someone calls me and, in the course of the conversation say’s “I
had my child tested but I haven’t told them or the school
anything because I don’t want them to be labeled.” I’m
simply flabbergasted. If you went to a doctor, took a bunch
of tests and then never found out the results you would assume
the worst. So do our children. They label themselves, and the
label they use is “stupid.”
Labels are productive when they result in needed services and better understanding
of your child/student or yourself. Labels are bad when as educator’s, parents’ we
take a short cut and allow the label to become an excuse. Recently a parent told
me her teen had cheated on a test and got caught. A friend of his/her advised
trying a sob story so the teenager told the teacher that he/she was learning
disabled and that was why they had cheated. WRONG–the cheating resulted
from taking the easy way out and unfortunately having a learning disability,
often means having to work harder instead of putting out less effort. Learning
Disabled children are not lazy, but a lack of success, self-knowledge and acceptance
can lead to work avoidance.
Labels become ugly when they are used to bully or put someone down.
By not helping you child accept whop they are and take responsibility for their
learning, they are made vulnerable. You also allow your child (student) to
believe they are dumb which is very hurtful and will ultimately exacerbate
the academic problems and cause emotional ones. Help yourself and your child
accept who they are by getting solid information, gaining information your
self so that you can communicate with your child and their teachers, seek help
and then everyone can move forward.
Sterling School is a special education grade school located at 299 Pacific
Street in Brooklyn. Ruth Aberman is the Director. For more information about
the school or the author go to www.sterlingschool.com or call 718-625-3502.