This is the child.
The one we say is too loud, too quiet, too distracted, too active, too shy, too stubborn, too immature, too disruptive, too slow…or just, too difficult.
You know the child. She’s the one who doesn’t fit neatly in the classroom box. The one we label a problem. The one we try to change.
But I can assure you this child doesn’t want to be a problem. See, it’s not that she doesn’t understand what is expected of her. She really does. It’s that she finds the path that leads to meeting those expectations suffocating.
We’ve set a single standard for what every child should learn, where and how they should learn it, when they should have it learned by, and how they need to go about proving that they have. This standard is non-negotiable and unrelenting for more than a decade. How a child performs against it becomes central to their life narrative, laying a permanent lens over how they see themselves among family, friends and their community. It becomes a key part of how other people describe them, and significantly affects their self-confidence and mental health as it weaves its way into the fabric of their lives.
This is the child who day after day, week after week, and year after year has to find a way to make things work in an environment that is completely at odds with the way her brain was wired before she was even born.
This child is not a problem. This child, just like the millions of others like her, does not need to change.
But what we expect of her does.