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Every thing doesn’t need to be a thing

This sign hangs in my classroom. My colleague, Steve, showed it to me two years ago. Over the summer, I commissioned an artist on Etsy to make a larger one.

We refer to it often.

I posted this photo on Instagram a few weeks ago, indicating that it’s a sign that my students and I discuss often and one I like very much.

One of the commenters asked what we might be talking about given that the sign is “classist and ableist.”

I did not engage.

I’m not opposed to change.

I’m happy to hear that the new James Bond will no longer a sexist pig and possibly a person of color.
I support (and often use) gender neutral restrooms.
I’m happy to embrace any pronoun that a person chooses for themself.
I’m trying like hell to be anti-racist.
I’ve marched with Black Lives Matter.

But not every thing needs to be a thing.

This sign and the ideas that it represents are not problematic.

If I really wanted to, I could certainly point out how items on this list might be beyond the capacity of a person suffering from mental illness or a physical disability. I could also point out items on this list that are not perceived as relevant or important depending upon your cultural upbringing. I could also point out items that are decidedly more challenging based upon socio-economic status.

But we need to agree that some things in life are important for most people, even when exceptions exist.

I’m not going to stop teaching kids about the importance of making eye contact when speaking to someone even though I know that some people on the autism spectrum find this almost impossible to do.

I’m not going stop asking children to work on their posture even though sitting up straight is impossible for some folks with a physical disability.

I’m not going to stop talking about the importance of being on time even though I know that many people are tardy because of the unpredictable nature of bus schedules.

I could go on.

No list is going to account for the needs of all people. Exceptions will always exist. As people, we can carve out those exceptions. Support those people in other ways. Acknowledge their differences while simultaneously acknowledge that there are some ideas that are nearly universal in their appeal and value.

I’ll say it again:

Not every thing needs to be a thing.

I think this list falls into that category.