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ERIC Number: EJ906280
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Nov
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 6
ISSN: ISSN-0013-8274
Doubly Vulnerable: The Paradox of Disability and Teaching
Stewart, Meredith
English Journal, v100 n2 p27-30 Nov 2010
Parker Palmer's comment that teaching is a "daily exercise in vulnerability" might just as easily be said about living with a disability. As much as the person with a disability might want to hide his or her differences, it is often difficult to do so. Something as commonplace as walking through a grocery store without being stared at is often impossible for a person missing a hand. In this article, the author discusses how her students have challenged her to acknowledge both her physical and pedagogical weaknesses. Openly and honestly discussing these weaknesses (whether perceived or actual) is not always easy, but doing so lets students know that vulnerability is not limited to the sometimes difficult years of adolescence. As an adult, one need not have a disability to practice this kind of vulnerability. All teachers have areas of vulnerability that they can benefit from sharing and discussing with students. This doesn't mean making the totality of their personal lives or pedagogy fodder for student scrutiny, but it does mean openness to honest conversations with students. The willingness to see their students' challenges to them as opportunities for growth and conversation, rather than threats, allows teachers to model for them the ways in which the challenges of their own lives can be opportunities for growth and reflection.
National Council of Teachers of English. 1111 West Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096. Tel: 877-369-6283; Tel: 217-328-3870; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A