Words from a teacher and Person-first language

As I’ve mentioned previously, I am currently taking a class on special education.  It’s an introductory course, and I already have background in a lot of the topics because of my psychology and art therapy courses.  This makes the class rather easy but still informative (in the specifics of educational laws and functioning).  The professor has years of experience in the field of special education, teaching children in public schools and education students in universities.  She seems fairly knowledgeable on the subjects we discuss and doesn’t generally make mistakes.  Until today.

Now, I’m certainly not saying that people aren’t allowed to make mistakes or misspeak.  However, basic understanding of the proper use of terms one is using to teach is, I think, a fairly reasonable expectation.

Today, our lecture was about emotional and behavioral disorders (also known by many other terms, but that’s the gist of it).  When we got to the definition part, which was quite early in the short class, the professor began talking about the federal definition and other definitions of various organizations and such.  Well, the federal definition, apparently, includes an exclusion for social maladjustment, such as “conduct disorder–aggressive, disorderly, antisocial behavior.”  Besides that wording and punctuation being a bit odd, the professor’s explanation did not properly address it.  Maybe I’m misinterpreting the statement, but it seems to me that, especially with that combination of words (conduct disorder, aggressive, etc.), the antisocial behavior mentioned is just that–antisocial behavior.  My professor, however, seems to think that antisocial behavior means social awkwardness and avoidance.  Although this is a popular interpretation of the word antisocial, it is an actual disorder, with a specific set of antisocial characteristics and behaviors.  It is my understanding that, when discussing diagnostic things, one should use the correct diagnostic definitions.  In this case, antisocial behavior is obviously behavior that is against society, not simply unsocial.  My professor did not address any of the other words in the exception of the category.  It bothers me that people don’t understand things like this and perpetuate such misunderstandings in their teaching.

This wasn’t a major incident, but it did remind me of another post I’m working on, so I thought I’d talk about that topic now, too.  That topic, which this particular professor seems to enjoy emphasizing, is person-first language.  Basically, person-first language means that, when describing someone, you should put the person or humanizing adjective before a disability or disorder.  For instance, instead of saying something like “The autistic boy went to McDonald’s,” you would say “The boy who is autistic went to McDonald’s.”  The purpose of this is to emphasize the human aspect and deemphasize the label, reducing negative connotations and focusing on commonalities.  This seems fine and dandy, but I’m not convinced.  First of all, from a purely linguistic point of view, the wording is, well, off, and seems to emphasize that there is a difference.  In our language and culture, we generally say things like “the blonde girl,” “the good lawyer,” “the fat man,” “the distracted child,” while person-first language makes us think about this and, only for specific cases, makes us change the wording.  It is less common and more cumbersome to say “the girl who has blonde hair,” “the lawyer who is good,” “the man who is fat,” “the child who is distracted,” and people just don’t do it.  Moreover, it’s not suggested by person-first language.  At what point do we draw a line in rewording our descriptions?  Is “The German boy who has autism” better than “The German boy is autistic” (is versus has is another issue altogether) or “The boy who is German has autism” or “The boy with autism is German” or “The autistic boy is German” or any other combination of those words?  I think it depends on what one is trying to say, but I don’t believe any of those is inherently dehumanizing.  Should we say “The young male person of German heritage exhibits behaviors commonly associated with the set of symptoms known as autism”?  This rewording, to me, while well-intentioned, actually puts unneeded emphasis on the condition being discussed.

In addition, some communities, such as the Deaf community, do not approve of this type of language.  Deaf people, according to literature, would rather be called “Deaf people” than be called “people who are deaf” because they have a culture, a community, a language all their own, and it’s not dehumanizing to identify them as being a part of that.  In fact, it is empowering in many cases.

I’m not suggesting that every possible wording is okay in every circumstance, but I do think that the wordings we use should fit what we are trying to say.  There are also differences between saying “The depressed girl” and “The girl with depression” and “The girl who is depressed” and “The girl who has depression” but I don’t think one is inherently wrong or dehumanizing.  What can be dehumanizing is how people use the words.  “That guy is sooo bipolar,” for example, puts the person first but is still demeaning, while saying “The bipolar man shared his lunch” is not.

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Early

I had to get up early today so that I could get to school early so that I could unwrap a clay cup and wait for it to dry.  My life is so exciting.

On my way to school, I missed my exit and had to drive at least 10 extra minutes to get back to where I needed to be.  Oh the horror.

An update on ceramics, because you really do care oh so much:  I carved four of the teacups I needed and they’re not too ugly.  I carved a hole into one, so I had to throw a new one (that’s the one that isn’t dry yet).  Once it’s ready, I have to trim it and carve the foot and then carve the body to match the others.  I spent hours trying to make satisfactorily hand built teacups, but they were all ugly or fell apart or both or something else, so I gave up on Saturday and went home.  I took clay home with me and yesterday, instead of driving to school, stayed home and managed to make five pinch pot teacup things with the help of custard bowls.  They aren’t too bad.  So that assignment’s almost done, which is good ’cause it’s due in half an hour.  I probably won’t have that last cup done because it’s still too wet to trim and there’s just not enough time to finish it before class starts, but at least I have most of it done and can probably finish that one cup today.  We will probably be having demos for teapot making today, too, so that’ll take some time, and we’re unloading our first glaze kiln probably, so that’ll take some more time.  Maybe I won’t actually finish that cup in class, but probably this afternoon.  Maybe.

The art department chairperson still hasn’t emailed me back telling me where her mailbox is, so I guess I’ll just have to go to her office this evening and hope she’s there at the time she told me she could possibly meet me.  I need to get those forms signed before they decide I’ve taken too long and try to make me keep the class and get an F.  That wouldn’t be the best way to start at this new school, and I have a legitimate reason to drop.

If anybody reading this (if anyone has read this far) is an expert paper pop-up maker or something like that, I could use your help.  For my drawing class, I’m making a pop up page of an ancient Greek statue hitchhiking on a modern countryside.  Yeah, it’s weird, but those were the words I ended up with.  So what I need help with is making the illusion of depth beyond the flat pieces popping out.  I just can’t seem to get it to be satisfactory in my mini models.  I have class tonight, work time tomorrow, and critique on Wednesday, so I need to get this figured out soon because I haven’t started drawing the pieces or background yet (because I don’t know how big they should be or what they should look like.

There’s nothing to report going on in my special ed. class.  I’m going to try to talk to the teacher today about the test questions I don’t understand.  I was going to do that last week, but she seemed busy and we only had class one day.  I was also going to print the email I sent her for reference, but I forgot, so I guess I’ll just have to use my computer to access it and get the specifics, ’cause I certainly don’t remember anymore.

I still have about 15 minutes before I need to head to class.  I would go now, but there’s already a class in there working, and I don’t have anything to do in the studio (I’m pretty sure the cup won’t be ready, and even if it is, there’s not enough time to finish it).  Oh well, guess I’ll stay here on the computer.

Also in the realm of helping me, if you have any ideas for crafts/art projects to do with adults with (mostly cognitive and some physical) disabilities, or know where I could find a good source or two with ideas, please let me know.  It’s not that I don’t have ideas of my own, but I’m always looking for more and better.

Surprisingly, for getting up around 6am, I’m not too tired.  I know, 6 isn’t really that early, but I still don’t like it. I’d rather get up at 8 or 9…or noon…

I have a few posts saved as drafts that I think will be actually interesting and informative, not just telling of my exciting waits for clay to dry, but they’re long…and I keep losing attention and/or getting overwhelmed by them.  I’m worried that they’ll lose their interest and meaning because the timeliness of them will be ruined by me taking so long to finish and post.  Oh well.  That worry’s not going to change anything; I just thought you’d like to know.

I suppose I can start packing up and heading to class now, so I guess I’ll publish this.  Since I did this post this morning, maybe I’ll work on one or more of those in progress posts this afternoon.  Or not.  I’ll see.  And you may, too, eventually.

Six Minutes

In six minutes, I am going to get off this couch and then start working.  I am at school.  I was supposed to be here this morning, but that didn’t happen.  So now I have all afternoon and evening to work on ceramics.  Obviously, I’m quite eager to do that.  Can’t you tell by my typing?

Yesterday, I managed to trim the feet of 10 teacups, so those are good.  Five of them need to be carved, or I need to throw more and carve them, so that the carving is an integral part of their design.  I also need to hand build five, with slab or coil or pinch or whatever.  It’s not that I don’t like working with clay, I just am a bit tired of this work.  We’ve made cups and bowls and plates and things, but I like making more sculptural work.  Maybe I would, but most of this time has been learning the techniques for me, which is important, but the schedule of things being done every week is different than it was at my last school.  I think it actually works better, it’s just not optimal for procrastinating, which is something I’m very good at.

One minute.  Yeah, maybe that’s not going to happen.

Oh look, it’s time for me to get up.  Maybe if I just wait a little longer…but no, I should work.  But I have hours before I have to leave…10 more minutes won’t hurt…right?

I got here about half an hour ago, but I didn’t start working right away because I was hungry and decided to eat lunch.  Now, lunch is done and I’m just…avoiding…good job

In ceramics, our next project is a teapot.  This requires making pieces that fit together.  I’ve never done that, so it should be interesting…and difficult…and ugly…yay

I did email the chair of the art department, and she told me to put the sheet for her signature in her mailbox.  I would, but I don’t know where her mailbox is.  I don’t know where any mailboxes are.  Hopefully, she responds soon and tells me so that I can get that taken care of.

I also emailed the lady in charge of the Goodwill center I volunteered at in the spring, and she said I could come back to do art with the clients once a week starting in November, so I’m looking forward to that.  I just have to come up with some activities and get them approved by her.  That should be good.  It will give me something to do besides sleep and homework.

I also am going to try to start counseling again.  I’m not sure if the therapist I worked with last has appointments available when I’m free, but I hope so, because I really liked her and was able to make some progress.  Maybe that would help me feel better…

Well, now that I’ve spent almost 40 minutes longer than I was planning not doing ceramics (also not just doing this), I think it’s about time I try to be productive.  Yes, that sounds like a plan.

Is it nap time yet?

Maybe it is, but there’s nowhere for me to sleep right now.  I am tired.  I slept all day yesterday, except for maybe six hours total, and four of those were only because I had decided to hang out with my friend weeks ago and this was the first time we were able to.  Now, I’m at school, and I want to be at home, sleeping.  But I can’t go home now; I have to stay and work on ceramics.  15 teacups are due on Monday, and I don’t have any done yet.  I will most likely need to come in this weekend to work, too, but I’d rather get the most done that I can today.  I also have a pop-up thing to make for my drawing class.  It’s due Wednesday, but I want to get a lot of it done this weekend, but I will be able to do it in class Monday and at home Tuesday.  Plus, I have my normal chapter notes to do for special ed. that are due tonight.  And I have to get signatures for dropping my art metals class.  I have the teacher’s, but I need to get one from the chair of the department before taking the sheet to the dean’s office, and nobody’s in the chair’s office when I check.  I would check now, but I’m tired and semi comfortable, so I don’t think I will.  Later.  Maybe.

Soooooooooooo tired.

There was something else I was going to write about.  What was it?

I really don’t remember.  I just want to sleep.  Why am I so tired?  Maybe I’m depressed.  Well, of course I am.  Maybe I’m low on iron.  Probably.  Maybe I’m just a sleepy person.  Maybe I got into bad sleeping habits.  Sleep is just so nice.

On…Wednesday, maybe, I transferred my Multiply blogs (including my transfer of 360 blogs) to Blogger.  I have to go through and add the photos and such, but that shouldn’t take too long…only 400 some posts…

Okay, I really don’t know what to write, so I’m going to stop trying.  Maybe I’ll go back to ceramics…or maybe I’ll do that later…or maybe I’ll just go home…that would be a poor choice…hmmmm

This is stupid

I got up on time today, started getting ready, and then gave in and “rested” for over an hour, making me late for my first class.  In fact, I got to school with less than an hour of class left and couldn’t bring myself to actually go into class late again, so I didn’t.  Now, I’m sitting here, typing.  Good choice.  I’m allowed to miss three days, this is one.  Plus, three late days equal one missed day.  Well, I’ve been late at least three times in the past week or so, and only one was for a somewhat legitimate reason (a car accident, very minor, but taking up time).  The other late days were because of anxiety and “resting” that I shouldn’t have done.  Granted, it’s probably safer for me to drive after resting than when I’m super anxious, but still.  I’m making a bad habit of being late, and it has to stop.  I’ve decided to change the order of my getting ready so that, hopefully, it’s less suited to resting and gets me to class on time, but I’m not convinced that’s going to work.  Now that I have two days without a class (since I dropped metals…still have to get that paperwork done), I really only have to get up three days a week to go to class, so maybe somehow that will help.  Or at least not having the added stress of metals will help.  I don’t know, but I hope so.

I think I’ve mentioned, in my special education class, we had an online test that was 15 multiple choice questions.  Well, I took it.  First of all, my teacher needs to learn how to check her questions, because some were horribly written and some were on sections of the book we haven’t gone over yet.  I have a 100% on all the assignments for the class, ’cause it’s easy.  This test was an open book, so it should have been easy, too.  And it was, except for the places where she screwed up the wording.  Anyway, I got two questions wrong.  No big deal, except it tells you which answers are correct and I don’t get why they’re right and mine are wrong.  So I emailed the professor, with the questions, answers, why I was confused, and very simple questions for her to answer.  It would have taken her no more than five minutes (assuming she actually knows the answers) to answer my email properly.  What did she do instead?  Totally ignore my questions and simply respond, “I would be happy to discuss this during my office hours.”  Well, that’s lovely, but it’s not what I was looking for.  It actually makes me think, in my slightly paranoid way, that she’s trying to intimidate me to make herself seem more right.  Well, that’s not going to work.  Although I do have social anxiety (which she doesn’t know about), I’m not going to let her get away with poorly written questions and wrong answers on something that affects my grade.  I would have greatly preferred her simply responding to my email with the pages on which the answers could be found or telling me why I was wrong, but now I’ll have to go talk to her.  Oh well.  Guess I should probably check when her office hours are…Alright, the syllabus says she’ll talk after class today, so I’ll catch her then, I guess.  Provided there aren’t a million other people also trying to talk to her about the test…

Why does this room smell oddly of gasoline?  This is strange.  I wonder if anyone else notices.

Well, that smell is gone, replaced by a burnt something.  How reassuring.

I don’t know what else to write, so I guess I’ll be doing something else now.  Maybe I’ll write to the Goodwill center I used to volunteer at and see if I could go again, now that I have days without classes.  Yes, that sounds like a plan.

That’s one less thing to worry about

I guess.  In light of my lack of ability to use the torch in metals class, and after a conversation with my teacher after the project I failed to produce was due, I’ve decided to drop the class.  She convinced me that the extra anxiety was unnecessary, that life is too short to spend it doing things that make us suffer.  I’m not sure I’m convinced entirely, but I am withdrawing from the class.  Now I just have to get all the paperwork done and signatures I need and everything (it’s after the “final” drop date, so I need special permission and a good reason).  I’ve also gone to the office that deals with accommodations for students with disabilities and gotten paperwork to fill out to start receiving their services and be documented at this university so that I hopefully don’t have trouble dealing with anxiety in classes again.  I don’t really think there’s much they can do to help me, but we’ll see.

In ceramics, I have two weeks to make 18 teacups without handles, aka teabowls.  They have to be made in different ways and with different clays, so it’s not quite as simple as you might think it would be, especially considering I’m not very good at consistency.  I’ll certainly try, though.  Also, I’ve begun adding surface treatments to the pieces I’ve had bisque fired.  So far, that just means I used some cobalt wash on some cups and almost finished a pitcher before I decided that it was ugly and needed to be washed off.

I’m starting a new project in drawing today, but I have no idea what it is.  All the professor’s told us is that we’re using colored pencils.  Well good.  I’m glad I spent $30 on the crayons he demanded we buy for that one week we used them.  Totally worth it.  I mean, I’ll use them again, but some of the people in my class certainly won’t.  And, of course, it had to be that particular brand, because regular pastels are too…wrong.

I have an online midterm for my special education class.  It’s open book, timed for one hour, 15 multiple choice and true/false questions.  I think I can handle this.  In fact, I’d be doing it right now, but it’s no open yet…which is why I’m here, I guess.

I don’t really have anything to tell you.

Anxiety is the spice of life

Right?  Well, no, but…nope, can’t even pretend.  I was late for class this morning because, after I got up and started getting ready, I was feeling very anxious and decided to “rest for a few minutes”…a few minutes turned into almost an hour, and it wasn’t even restful.  I do not like this.  The anxiety I had was a carry over from yesterday and worry about today, plus just general anxiety about nothing in particular.  You see, in my art metals class, I have two projects due on Tuesday.  We’re not allowed in the studio on the weekends, so that leaves this afternoon and part of Monday afternoon (and possibly Tuesday morning for a bit, but not enough to count on) to finish.  I worked for four hours yesterday trying to cut a fish shape out of brass to fit inside the same shape cut out of copper.  I just could not get it to fit.  Besides this being quite frustrating, I’m terrified of what I have to do next, besides finishing the fish-cutting:  I have to solder.  As I’ve mentioned before, soldering (and annealing, which I also have to do) requires the use of an open flame, a torch that I will hold and control.  I do not like hot things; not campfires, not ovens, not hair dryers, and certainly not torches.  I have been putting this off for the past month, not working in the most efficient ways because I was avoiding the flame.  Well, I’m past the point of avoiding now, and I didn’t even ask anybody for help, so it’s all up to me, today, to start/finish the work.  I’m going to start with annealing and see how that goes, since it shouldn’t take too long and doesn’t require as much control and directing of the flame to draw the solder around the seams.  But I’ll still have to solder today.  Yay.  Honestly, I am so scared, and, if I could drop the class without it showing on my transcript, I probably would.  But it’s past that point and I just have to get through this or fail, and I really don’t feel like failing one of my first classes at this school.  Plus, it’s something I should know how to do in case I ever need to teach it or want to use it in my own work, and I really want to work on getting over/through this fear.  In my last art metals class (which I dropped when we got to soldering), I did handle the torch and solder a bit, but I was scared then and don’t really remember any of it.  So it’s like I’m doing this for the first time.  And it’s scary.  Very, very scary.

I also have two writing assignments to do for my special education class that are due at midnight tonight.  I was going to do them yesterday after I left metals, but I was still quite anxious and couldn’t concentrate, so I didn’t.  That means I have to fit those assignments in today, too.  The metals studio closes at 9pm, so I could have an hour or two to do the assignments tonight (if I stay in metals all day), but I don’t know if that’s enough time, if I’ll be too anxious, or if I’ll be too tired to do the work then.  So I should do that this afternoon, maybe as a break from metals, like while my soldered and annealed copper is in the pickle solution (to clean it after touching fire).  Or maybe I should do it now and avoid the flame a little longer.  After all, it’s already past the time I was planning on being in the studio, so what’s another hour or two away?  Actually, I wasn’t going to be in the studio until about now, but my class ended early, so I’ve been ready to go to the studio for an hour or so.  Except I’m not at all ready…but I can’t wait until I am, because that time will probably never come.  So here I am, sitting on my computer and trying to type through my feelings to…what?  make it easier to go and do the work I need to do?  I don’t think that’s going to happen, but maybe that’s my hope.  I don’t know.

 

Well, I just spent an hour and a half on the internets, mostly Yahoo Answers, answering questions, which is odd because I haven’t done that this much in about six years.  I must really be trying to avoid something.  Now that I’ve closed that tab, I guess I’ll start packing up and go confront the art metals room…Yay…