07 March 2016

I Tried to Understand This Poem

The following has been passed out in a second grade public school class so that students could circle the rhyming words in the poem:

I Tried to Ride a Skateboard

by Kenn Nesbitt

I tried to ride a skateboard.

I fell and scraped my knee.

I tried to ride a bicycle.

I crashed into a tree.

I tried to ride a scooter.

I landed on my chin.

I tried to ride a unicycle;

lost a bit of skin.

I even tried a tricycle

but ran into a wall.

I'm happy in this wheelchair now.

I never fall at all.

Copyright © 2015 Kenn Nesbitt

All Rights Reserved

From www.poetry4kids.com

Ok, so... easy-to-read and somewhat playful sounding rhyme for the most part.  I found myself wondering about protective gear and all until the end.  The end is what's really bugging me.  I kept second-guessing myself, whether this should bother me as much as it did, so I consulted my friend and disability advocate, Kim Wombles.  Here's what she had to say:

"That sure is an all or nothing fallacy. Plus, I'm in a wheelchair and fall all the time. It's ableist and insensitive. It also will have those second graders potentially blaming wheelchair users for their disability."

I wonder if they would have thought twice about passing this poem out if there were a child in class who needed to use a wheelchair or walker.  I really wish that staff at this school were able to learn more about disability, not to shame them, but to help them truly learn and do better next time.  


  1. We have to assume this poem was written well before such sensitivities were even thought about, but still, it should have been more closely studied and then dismissed as unsuitable.

    1. I'd've assumed that except for the copyright date. And you're right. It should have been dismissed as unsuitable for children in class.


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