Thursday, November 12, 2015

Danger of a Single Story

After watching the TED Talk, I stopped to think of how many times I have heard single stories of people and never pursued or was given the opportunity to hear the "other" side. This video made me think of a little boy at my church. Currently I am a teacher assistant for Youth Group on Monday nights. I am assigned to the K-2 grade class. Because there is a significant range of levels in the room, I stick to the younger children and the teacher focuses on the older half. Before class began on the first day, the teacher pulled me aside and told me about one specific child that was going to present in the room. She explained how she had him in her class last year and he was very difficult. She was trying to prepare me for what she thought was going to happen. She continued to tell me that he takes nothing seriously, is a distraction to the other children, and often gets sent out of the room. Before I even met this boy, I already had a predisposition of what his behavior would be like. As class began I knew exactly what this teacher was saying. He was all of the things she warned me about, but I felt as if there was something more to his behavior. I started watching how he would behave/react when it came to the assignments or having to pay attention to different stories. Working with disability, I noticed there were some similar behaviors that some of my clients or other students I previously worked with possessed. Digging deeper, I was able to learn that this child had a learning disability and behaved poorly when he felt as if he could not do what the other children were doing. Now, I am able to give him more one-on-one support and help redirect him when he gets off course. His behaviors have not gone away completely, but there have been less of them. This is why it is important to be aware of the limitations imposed on youth when focusing on a single story.


  1. This is a great example! I wonder if you didn't have prior experience with children who struggle in this way, if you would've co-authored his single story. Its so easy to become guilty of keeping single stories alive. Knowing the dangers of single stories definitely put us at an advantage. I hope we are intentional about letting youth write their own stories, and not repeating the single stories we are told.

  2. This story truly spoke to me. People don't ever read into "why" children act the way they do, they just acknowledge the bad behavior. I love that we, as YDEV majors, are given this insight and hopefully positively influence others to look through the same lens. I'm so happy to hear that you are a teacher assistant though! I had no idea!! I love it. You're gonnah #killit ;)

  3. This reminds me of the blog I wrote about co- authoring and how this boy at my work always got into trouble and acted out. When I asked him what was wrong he told me he was just sad because he missed his grandma or mom because he was staying at a different house. Everyone just saw him as a "bad kid" but there was so much more to his story.