As a part of their ‘social sensitisation’ exercise, my four-year old’s kindergarten class is being taken to a school for the hearing impaired today. ‘What is the purpose of the visit?’, I wondered aloud. ‘To teach our kids how privileged they are’, replied a parent of a child had been taken on the same trip last year.
While I applaud the sentiment behind it, I am not
sure if I approve of it. Last year, his class visited the zoo and a pet shop. This year, they are visiting a school for hearing impaired children. Don't you think the children would subconsciously equate the two? Are hearing impaired children exhibits for the non-hearing impaired children to ogle at?
I do not think so. As far as I am concerned, the hearing impaired children are children not very different from my two. Unlike the kids in my son’s class, the hearing impaired children start off with a disadvantage- they would need to work much harder to achieve similar results, they would need to be extremely strong to move forward in a world which is imperfectly designed for them. BUT, they are not creatures from outer space- they are children much like the children in my son’s class.
What they need is not sympathy, or curiosity. All they really need is a little bit of compassion- an un-obstructive nudge or a silent gesture when they are missing out on something. And that they will get more readily from people who grow up thinking of them as peers.
Rather than ‘visit’ the school, I would much rather have had the kids from both schools meet in a common place for an hour of fun and games. Wouldn’t that make a lot more sense than moralizing sermons about compassion and pity?
Or, am I just over-reacting as I tend to do?