When people say “I can’t” I’ll sometimes encourage them to say “I decided not to” or something instead. Nobody can predict the future, so maybe nobody can know for sure whether somebody would be able to do something if they tried some more times. However, a person has a right to decide to stop. They may judge that it’s so unlikely they would succeed that it’s not worth trying; and doing it may not be worth a tremendous amount to them. I also have a right to my opinion that maybe they can.
realsocialskills answered:
You have a right to your opinion, but you don’t have the right to have them respect your assessment of their abilities. You especially do not have the right to have them take your opinion into consideration when they’re deciding what they can and can’t do.
Inability to do things is real. And yes, I may sometimes be wrong about my inability to do things, but taking it seriously when I think I can’t do something matters. Even if I’m wrong.
There’s a difference between deciding I don’t want to do something, and deciding that I think I am incapable of something, or that doing the thing is unacceptably risky for me.
Even if other people think I’m wrong - I still have the right to assess what my limits are and act accordingly. And even though I will sometimes mistakenly think that I am unable to do something I am actually capable of, “I can’t” is still a vital part of my vocabulary.
There’s a difference between not wanting to do a thing, and reaching the conclusion that I’m probably not capable of doing the thing and that trying is hurting me.
I need to be able to acknowledge that I have limits in order to manage them correctly, and do what I can instead of pretending that enough willpower makes everything possible.
So does everyone else. In particular, people with disabilities who have been taught that we’re not allowed to take physical limitation seriously. But being disabled and physically limited isn’t a moral failing. It’s just a fact of life that sometimes needs to be accounted for.

fourloves said:

anon needs to go away

who else gets chills when special ed teachers say “the word ‘can’t’ is not allowed in my classroom”

realsocialskills said:

Yes, teaching kids with disabilities not to recognize their own limits is a *major* anti-skill, and it does serious damage to people with disabilities.

chavisory said:

Agh, yes, because, if “I can’t” is really “I decided not to,” then dollars to donuts a teacher or someone is gonna go “Well, why did you decide not to?  Why don’t you decide otherwise?  Why don’t you just make a better choice?”

(Because I can’t.  Like I told you the first time.)

It all boils down to “Why don’t you just not be disabled?” and that really, you’re not allowed to actually not be able to do anything.  You’re not allowed to trust yourself or your own perception of your capabilities, ever.  And anonymous, that is a great way to instill some wicked self-hatred and alienation in your students.  Cut it out.

realsocialskills said:

Yes, this.

And also, assessing your own capabilities is a *skill*, it’s one that you have to always keep learning how to do. 

Sometimes you will think you can’t do something and be wrong. That is ok. It is ok to make mistakes. It doesn’t mean that you should eradicate “can’t” from your vocabulary.

Sometimes, your sense of what you can and can’t do might need to be re-calibrated. But even when you are getting it wrong, it’s a matter of using and improving *your* judgement about what you can and can’t do safely.