Unenviable – This word made its way into my notebook when a co-worker used it during a workshop to describe his interpretation of the role of special education teachers at the middle school level. He had said that special education teachers had the “unenviable position of having to be experts at everything.”
He was referring to the need for special education teachers to understand and be able to accommodate and modify for all types of learning disabilities and styles, as well as having to expertly know the curriculum for all the content areas at the middle school level. This comment sparked a pretty lively discussion during the workshop, but the word that stood out the most through all of it was unenviable.
This colleague could have used several other words such as unfortunate, unlucky, undesirable, or unpleasant, instead, but by choosing to say unenviable, there was a strong connotation that he was acknowledging and respecting the responsibilities rather than simply dismissing them as undesirable. It was as if he was able to say that he had thought about and evaluated the responsibilities that the special education teachers had, compared them to his own, tried to imagine what it would be like to be in a special education teacher’s place, then decided that it must not be easy, and expressed his understanding – all with this one word.
I also really like the way unenviable sounds when it is spoken. I think it has to do with the repeated “n” sound followed by the “v” sound and possibly because it is five syllables. ~Melissa 🙂