Scales of Judgement

I have been roaming around the internet in search of some advice. It has been a long and fruitless search, I can tell you. When I started this blog there was loads of it, all at my fingertips. I was overwhelmed (almost) with it all. Do this, do that, do the other. In the end I ignored most of it and went along my own merry way. All except one piece, that is. And, of course, that is the one I can’t find. It’s always the way.

The advice I am looking for was about children. Oh, not the parenting sort, there’s plenty of that. The writing sort – and I don’t mean how to get them to write their thank you letters (although that is worth a blog post, I must say; Joe Kirby wrote a very thought provoking post on the subject, and I fully intended to fire off my own thoughts upon the subject, but I got derailed, I will catch up with myself Joe, I promise – sort of). I mean the way that we write about children.

As someone who writes primarily about her own child, I took this advice very much on board. Every time I write about Sam I consider how he appears to the wider world. He has no say in what I write about him – these are my thoughts, not his – so I owe him a great deal of responsibility in the stories I choose to tell. I must bear in mind his dignity, his personhood; I must write nothing that would damage him, or put him in danger.

This would be a heavy responsibility were he a typically developing child. As it is, he is not. He finds himself growing up in within the statistical bounds of the vulnerable. I posted some stats yesterday that illustrate his position – I’m sure there are more, should I care to hunt them down. As a vulnerable child, one with SEND, with Down’s syndrome, I must bear those statistics in mind when I write. I must consider the sad fact that many, if not most people are afraid, and if not afraid then discomfited, by disability – and that it is in part this fear that contributes to the bleak outlook on his future, and the future for many children and young people like him.

As a teacher, I am bound by similar restrictions when I put my thoughts onto this page. Professionally I must write nothing that would bring my school into disrepute; but more than that, I am bound by bonds of care for the children I teach. They are part of my wider family, if you will. What I write here, should I choose to write about them, will have an impact.

I weigh my words carefully. Do you?

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6 thoughts on “Scales of Judgement

  1. Totally with you on this, as someone who shared too much initially before having these deeper thoughts. The question is never far from my mind and my post on it sits constantly in draft; I too haven’t found the definitive answers yet. Seems that everyone has their own opinion… so at the end of the day we probably need to go with our own gut instincts?!

    1. My guiding principle is that of harm – will what I write cause harm to someone else. If the answer is yes – then I try to find another way to tell the story.

  2. I so identify with what you say here Nancy. I had the same dilemma when writing about my own children home educating in my book ‘A Funny Kind of Education’, and others who were included in it. But I think – well, actually I know as many have contacted me to say so – it has been a real help to others to read our story. As long as we proceed sensitively, like you are doing, we find the way. All the very best. x

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