I was once asked by a friend of mine who is a semi-professional question asker, especially when it comes to one’s chosen career, why I have opted to go the route of special education rather than general education. Because I’m awkward and bad at answering questions, even more so when it’s a non-wrestling query while we were watching wrestling, I fumbled through some vague answer ultimately resulting in, “I’m not sure.”
I am one to dwell on things, especially my own short comings and faulty answers, and this was no exception. I thought my degree in psychology would be better utilized in special ed, but I thought there had to be more to it than that.
That’s when I recalled an episode of 30 Rock. In this particular episode Jack Donaghy and Devon Banks are locked in competition to get their daughters into the last vacant spot of some uppity, prestigious, private preschool. I still can’t believe that has become such a standard TV trope. Devon and his daughter ultimately win the admission to the school. But Jack, never one to be bested by others, especially Devon (but especially Bart) has an epiphany. He points out to Devon that the two of them are both products of the public school system and now here they are captains of industry vying for leadership of a billion dollar company. So he knows that his daughter will be more than fine in public school rather than the Snooty Academy of Smugness or whatever the school was called.
So I look at the kids in gen ed and I know they will be fine. They have great teachers and will flourish and become successful. But the kids who need special ed, they are the ones who will benefit most from the skills I have and all that I have to offer.
One of the ideas from Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy work mentioned in Man’s Search for Meaning, is “it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.” So to answer my friend’s original question, “why special education rather than general education?” Because that is where I am needed more. That is what life expects of me.
One thought on “Kids and Heroes”
Things you need extra of to be a special education teacher: patience, empathy, kindness, love and attention for those kiddos who can get lost in the shuffle.
Things you have in abundance: all of those things.