Fit in or Stand Out? (encore presentation)

This post debuted in April of 2011. Rereading it, I wondered what started my thinking along these lines. I was recovering from a severe depression at the time. Was this part of a relapse? Was it part of the difficulty I had in documenting my hearing loss under ADA for my employer? I honestly don’t remember exactly what kind of trigger led to this post.

“Why do you try so hard to fit in when you were made to stand out?”

This quote turned up again, this time in my Plurk network. It struck me in a sensitive place, as always.
I am different.
I have a hearing loss.

I wear two hearing aids.
And…

I teach.
I am educated.
I am articulate.
So which is it? In education we claim to value differences. However, I see more pressure to conform, pressure to follow the same path and be just like the others. We differentiate and adapt for our students, but not for each other.
Being a teacher and being different do not mesh well.
I may not always hear you perfectly, but when I know what you’ve said, I can address it and answer you in complete sentences. My hearing loss didn’t stop me from earning an undergraduate degree from a Conservatory of Music and a graduate degree in Curriculum and Instruction. I can write a research paper and quote the studies that support each point I make. I can write a letter that’s short and succinct and yet complete enough for the newspaper to publish. I can write a grant application that brings my class and my school much-needed money.
So which is it? Square peg or round hole? Fit in or stand out?
I still don’t know.

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