Teaching ability

As a parent, I am very interested in my children receiving the best education they can. I’ve encountered all kinds of teachers and can safely say that for the most part, I’ve been able to form relationships with my children’s teachers and this has greatly helped me to stay abreast of what was and is happening in the classroom and has also benefited my children.

When our children were in preschool, my husband and I decided that regardless of what kind of teachers our children had throughout their school lives; we would make sure that we give continuous support so that all parties involved would be able to achieve a great measure of success. We haven’t regretted that decision.

Teachers come in all kinds of packages and being one myself I have to admit that when I came across an article online I was pleased to see the progress that is being made in different societies and communities and also the way people’s minds are beginning to open up to not just people on a general level but to people who may be categorized as different.

Bryann Burgess is a teacher in South Carolina who is teaching music to children in very creative ways. This would probably mean nothing to you if this was an average story, but Bryann was born with Down Syndrome. She may not come in the package we’ve grown accustomed to seeing at the front of the classroom, but that by no means should discredit her ability. After hearing her speak I was impressed not by a perceived disability but by the confidence and articulation which exuded from her when she spoke of her profession.

I couldn’t help but wonder how we would respond to Bryann and others like her if at the beginning of the school term, the principal introduced her as a new teacher who would be given a class. I honestly think that those who wouldn’t whisper about her ability or disability would head straight to the office to confront the principal about how the Ministry goes about choosing teachers and demand an explanation.

We would then grab our phones and call every call-in programme in the country and “hurt” the nation’s ears about “those people”; while the biggest group of them all would be the “Pharisees” who would pretend to care and then say that they’re truly concerned about the teacher because the children may insult and even make her life difficult…, all the while just hoping that the authorities would just get them out of the classroom as fast as possible so they wouldn’t have to look at her!

What I loved most about the story is what wasn’t said, but seen and expressed. Since Bryann teaches children at no point was it an issue for them. That will always be the beauty in children to me. They are non-judgmental and accept you as you are. She taught and they participated. She was the teacher, they were the students, and that’s all that mattered to them.

I think when we become so used to one way of life, one way of thinking, one way of experiencing and one way of being, that this does more harm to us than we could imagine. When life presents us with opportunities to grow and gain new experiences, many of us are resistant to that very thing because we view it as a threat to our very existence.

Of course, depending on the particular scenario you should err on the side of caution; however when it is a scenario based solely on someone’s physical appearance moreso than anything else, then anything less than open-mindedness, fairness and willingness to co-operate is totally unacceptable.

I can’t help but wonder how many persons out there who may have some kind of challenge or disability but are capable of teaching and would love to pursue it have reservations about how you and I would perceive them entering the profession? What a sad day when someone is prevented from soaring because of people’s attitudes and backward thinking!

When people have a desire and a love to teach or anything else for that matter, they should be given the opportunity to do so regardless of how the world may choose to stereotype; because Bryann and others like her are breaking those barriers and are now the new normal. So ready or not — here they come!


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