Even more damaging than judging an adult by there gender is labeling kids and then treating them according to that label.
Schools are very quick if not eager to put a label on a child- ADD, ADHD, Special-Needs, Gifted, Slow, Learning Disabled, Physically Disabled. The label goes on the child's permanent record, and my guess is that file is then color-coded accordingly.
What bothers me, isn't that medical professionals are diagnosing children with these issues.
My problem is with the school administrators eagerly look for an excuse to increase their budget through a child's label. I also have a problem with guidance councelors or overly-enthusiastic teachers who would rather diagnose a child with a label instead of exercising their authority as the adult in charge.
When my daughter was in first grade, her teacher, Ms S. was just out of college. Fresh from the indoctrination to get kids pegged so there files can be properly color-coded and the resulting funding applied for- lest one of them be "left behind".
Late that fall we had our first parent-teacher conference. I was going to attempt to recreate the conversation, but it got boring and I don't remember it word for word anyway. Here are some of the points Ms. S. made to us regarding Punkin #1:
1- She already knows how to read
2- The other kids make fun of her for sounding out words phonetically instead of using the whole-word/guess method the rest of the class is using
3- She already knows the material in her math book
4- She makes the letter "a" incorrectly using the typewritten shape instead of the ball and stick shape
5- She talks too much during class
6- Oh- and by the way, I'm pretty sure she might need ritalin. Would you like to set up an appointment to see someone about this?
I should have asked how Ms S. was dealing with the teasing. I should have asked what steps she had taken to diminish the talking out of turn.
I couldn't get over the idea that this woman wanted to drug my daughter.
I don't know how to communicate my shock, disbelief, bafflement, horror, frustration, anger, and rage at this idiocy.
I've read Attila the Mom's blog dealing with her 2 boys who have some definite issues with ADHD and other complications. She faces great challenges at her house.
Aside from typical childhood behavior- my mate and I weren't having any trouble at home.
I really don't know how to let you know how ridiculous accusing my Punkin of ADHD is.
She doesn't have a "disorder". So- sorry! you won't be able to use her to up your budget. [Doesn't that sound like a great curse-out. "Up Your Budget!"]
She's not "hyper-active". She's probably antsy because she already knows the material.
She likes to talk. What else should she do if she's bored?
Punkin #1 never set foot in that classroom again. No way was a starry-eyed first-year teacher going to drug my child because Punkin #1 was bored with material that was too easy for her. Or call social services because we refused our daughter medical treatment or whatever other bullshit they come up with to force compliance with the label.
My mate and I had always toyed with homeschooling. Ritalin clinched the deal.
Funny how we got Punkin #1 home and didn't have any problems that required medical intervention. Hmmmmmm.
Kids are more than the labels that have been attached to them.
Whether it is labels given to them legitimately by doctors or other medical professions or the color-coded label placed on their file by school administrators.
"There's no sense letting Bart try-out for the school play, he's ADHD and won't be able to commit to practice every night after school."
Possibly more damaging to a child is the label given by the parents. Next time you hear a parent introduce their child, pay attention. Is it along the lines of "This is my son Wentworth, he's in 4th grade" or "This is my daughter Sarsparilla she's five".
Or is it more like "This is my boy Tyler, he's a real competitor. Loves his sports." or "This is Matilda, she's painfully shy."?
When a child is known by a label, the label becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Kids will start to live-up-to or live-down-to the label. They become who a child is and the label comes to define them as human beings.
After all, labels provide a powerful excuse.
Little Matilda doesn't have to try hard to meet people, she's shy and everyone knows it up front.
Tyler is expected to be more interested in sports rather than in schooling. Tyler has a built in excuse for not studying his spelling: he loves baseball and just wanted to get in a few more pitches before bed time.
"Oh, that one has ADHD so don't expect him to focus for more than a minute."
"Don't invite her, she's homeschooled and won't know how to play with the other children."
No matter who gave it to them, children are more than their labels.