Ableism can show itself through microaggressions.
This is not acceptable, especially if you are a teacher. We should support students and instead of putting them down.
Understanding that all kids grow under different circumstances is part of being an educator.
Redditor expectingbutnotthis encountered this very issue with her teacher. So she turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for moral judgment.
“AITA for telling the teacher to stop making comments on my wheelchair?”
The Original Poster (OP) explained:
“I’m 18f, have a pretty messed up pair of legs, have had since birth. I can walk but I am an ambulatory wheelchair user.”
“I’m currently due an upgrade for my chair, I’ve had it close to 7 years and it’s a bit messed up. It’s gotten pretty uncomfortable and it makes noise but like I said, I’ve had it 7 years and I’ve grown rather attached to it.”
“We’re saving to pay for the new one at the moment.”
OP explained the situation with her teacher.
“I have one teacher, my English teacher, who constantly makes comments about how banged up looking it is, and gets pretty pissed any time I dare move and it makes noise. She says it’s distracting.”
“The comments about the appearance of the chair annoy me a lot because it’s hardly going to look brand new after 7 years of constant use.”
“She made a comment this morning along the lines of ‘You know, you should really get a new one, that one looks like it’s about to collapse under you.'”
“I got really mad about this and I said, ‘You know what, if you think I should get a new chair so bad, you can pay the nearly 4 grand it’s gonna cost or you can stop making nasty comments about something that literally doesn’t affect you.'”
“She didn’t really look at me until the end of the class but the boy who sits besides me said it was slightly a**holeish as she probably didn’t realize how difficult the process was. AITA?”
Redditors gave their opinions on the situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Most Redditors agreed OP was not the a**hole.
“It sounds like she thought a new wheelchair would be easy to get. In which case…surely if a child is showing up to school in old clothing/equipment/etc or looking general unkempt, and you think that would be easy to fix, you wouldn’t just jump to ‘child is being difficult.'”
“Surely you’d start with ‘better get more information, maybe things aren’t okay at home.'”
“She’d still be misunderstanding the problem, but I don’t see why misunderstandings lead to being a dick about it. There’s every reason to be compassionate whatever she thought was happening.”
“ETA: Apparently, some people are reading this as a defense of the teacher. It isn’t.” ~ TwoCoded
“Nah. A person like this would absolutely jump right to ‘child is being difficult,’ even if she were aware of difficulties at home.”
“This isn’t a misunderstanding. This is ableism and privilege at its best. This is being so far up your own ass that reality doesn’t exist. This is living so that things are only allowed how they are expected/wanted to be and anything else is unacceptable.”
“This is a person that should not be teaching. Hope OP reports her behavior and comments.”
“Edit: I meant nah, as in nope, forgot to actually render a verdict, was simply responding to a comment about this being a possible misunderstanding.”
“Op is NTA.” ~ birdnerdmo
“If the teacher truly had OP’s best interest in mind, they would’ve approached OP privately and ask the appropriate questions and refer her to the social worker if it was necessary. Schools have social workers to assist students and families with resources to make sure there aren’t circumstances affecting their focus in school.”
“But the teacher decided to make a big deal about the wheelchair to the student in front of everyone, and humiliate her. OP did right by snapping at her so NTA.”
“I agree that she should report the teacher for harassment before the teacher reports her for disrespecting her in class.” ~ nomadangie80
Many shared their experiences.
“My mother was a teacher over 30 years. She always noticed the kids who were struggling or would tell her they couldn’t get an outfit for the concert, etc.”
“My mom would bring clothes and supplies to these children discreetly so that they didn’t have to feel singled out during special performances. Sometimes she would invite them to our home to pick out clothes to take home, and I think in one or two occasions she may have brought them shopping (with parent’s permission).”
“She never mentioned it in school and she certainly didn’t make a big deal out of it in front of other students.”
“This woman is ignorant and heartless to make these comments to OP during class. I would report her.”
“My younger brother had a nasty teacher like this in HS. He’s always worn his hair long with a ponytail (he has gorgeous hair TBH). One if his teachers would make fun of him about it in class and it got so bad my parent’s had to go to the principal about it. She made him miserable and he almost cut his hair because his classmates started making comments to him after they heard the teacher do it.”
“Disgusting. NTA!” ~ smcivor1982
“The world needs more teachers like your mother. It’s too bad that they seem to be such a rare breed these days, and private school vs public school doesn’t seem to make much difference.” ~ Darkmatter1002
“Look, I don’t like loud noises on my classroom.”
“If I had a student whose wheelchair made a lot of noise when they move, I’d just ask them if they want me to bring whichever item they want to them. I don’t mind handing a kid a pencil or sharpening it for them.”
“Or better yet, I’ll just f*cking deal with the noise bc I’m an adult and this kid can’t walk.”
“You can’t just tell a kid to get a new wheelchair. Obviously, they’re not in control of the household finances.”
“Plus, OP can hear. (S)he knows the chair is loud. Obviously they would replace it if they could. The comment was unnecessary.” ~ theoreticaldickjokes
Maybe offer to help instead of putting your students down next time.