One of the more controversial education conversations I hear and have been a part of concerns labeling kids. Over the years I’ve met lots of parents and teachers who argue that labeling is a negative thing. I’ve been to lots of dinner parties where, as soon as someone discovers my profession, the subject comes up, and sometimes heatedly. A few of the more consistent “negatives” presented are: “Labels mark a kid for life and I’m afraid that can hold him/her back,” “Labeling my child will lower expectations” and “Everyone today is labeled and then drugged.” Anyone whose child has been helped by such labels argues the other side.
Are diagnostic and special education labels like ADHD, Dyslexia, and Autism Spectrum Disorder helpful or not? Do these terms box children in and constrain them, or do they provide a safe container in which to play and develop? Are they too restrictive or are they safety harnesses that are absolutely needed?
In an opinion piece from Education Week, Labeling Students With Disabilities Has a Downside the writers suggest that Special Education Labeling has upsides and downsides.
Do you have an opinion either way? Is labeling a helpful thing or prejudicial and limiting?