Monday, November 16, 2009

Talking Points 9: Citizenship in School-Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome

1. "He and fellow educators have substantiated this vision with detailed accounts of actual educational arenas where all students are welcomed, no voice is silenced, and children come to realize their own self-worth through the unconditional acceptance of one another. Such acceptance is the aim when children with Down sundrome join their nondisabled peers in classrooms, and many schools and individual teachers have entered into this effort, which seeks and finds community value in all children."

This quote is a summary of Kliewers view on incorporating children with Down syndrome into the classroom. He believes all students should be considered important and that each of them should have a voice in the classroom. This reminded me of Delpit's article, "The Silenced Dialogue". Just as students of other cultures feel uncomfortable talking to the culture of power because they feel as though they are not listened to, I believe that people with disabilities feel the same way. Both parties are often considered less intelligent and do not receive the same power that is normally represented. It is time for every person to speak up because their voice is just as important as any other person.

2. "It's not like they come here to be labeled, or to believe the label. We're all here-kids, teachers, parents, whoever-it's about all of us working together, playing together, being togather, and that's what learning is. Don't tell me any of these kids are being set up to fail."

This particular teacher, Shayne, worked towards individuals all being part of a community group in the classroom. She stressed the importance of including children with Down syndrome and other disabilities into the classroom. By creating this community, she believes that the learning opportunities of the students becomes "broadened and strengthened". Shayne is a very creative teacher; she finds ways to teach all students, disregarding what learning level they are in. One example of this was creating a play after reading the book Where the Wild Things Are.

3. "In a testing situation, the psychologist asked Shayne's student, Isaac Johnson, to sort spoons and blocks into various containers. Isaac struggled first with the containers to get to the materials. He then separated the blocks from the spoons and tasted from each spoon before throwing them aside, one after the other. He was not given credit by the psychologist, who noted that Isaac had not conformed to the specific directions of the test item."

I believe that scenarios such as this often happen to children with disabilities. When a child is disabled, they have the ability to change the process of learning to adapt to their disability. For example, this child was asked to separate the blocks and the spoons, and he did. However, he did not do it as a child without his disability would do it. Instead of being praised for separating them, he got penalized for licking the spoon. Teachers, as well as people in general must learn to understand that these children cannot cope with problems in the same way as others and have their own methods that better fit their own situation.

I found this article to be a very slow read. I felt myself dazing out while reading. Although the article made some good points, I think that I am going to need to have more discussion before understanding the benefits of having children with disabilities in classes with children without disabilities. Personally, I feel as though the children with the disabilities would become angry and stressed because they cannot follow the material and the children without disabilities would be held back. Although I believe it can be possible to teach some lessons to both groups, I feel that doing so all the time would not be beneficial.

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