Sunday, April 14, 2013

Quotes from Kliewer on Down Syndrome and the Classroom/Community

"Citizenship in Schools Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome" by Christopher Kliewer

“The movement to merge the education of children with and without disabilities is based on the belief that to enter the dialogue of citizenship does not require spoken, or indeed outspoken, language. Rather, communication is built on one's ability to listen deeply to others” (3)

 By including these children in a typical classroom they are teaching all of the students that just because someone is developmentally different, they are still capable of learning, such as by listening as the article suggests. I remember in elementary school our class always had integrated children from the special education classroom. I never really understood them as different. They acted just like the other classmates did. In essence, having all of the students learn in the same environment as the article mentions is truly effective and proves that it strengthens communication and learning. Then, the community will gradually reform and not view developmentally or physically different people as disabled, but rather as abled.

         “Rather, the mind is forever dynamic, emerging through the multiple relationships formed and re-formed between children and their surroundings. As such, it makes no sense to define any single individual as intellectually defective. The presumed defectiveness exists not as an intrinsic commodity of the child  whose thoughts fail to fit within the perceived static border of normality. Rather, the idea of defect emerges from culturally devalued sets of relationships that that child has with his or her surroundings (i.e., teachers, peers, and materials)” (7)

              Students alike to teachers are role models…to each other. Every action he or she does, whether it is an eight year old student or thirty seven year old teacher has some effect on another person, such as a classmate. This part of the article explains that a child’s environment [at school, at home] reflects in their personality. If something is amiss, such as a incapable developmentally, usually an adult or other classmates think that it is something wrong with the child. This is not always the case. It reminds me of our servie learning, where we have witnessed or heard stories of children who do not know how to read or are secluded in the corner because they are not literate like the rest of the students. These children are separated because they are thought of as “intellectually defective,” even though they may not be specifically labeled this way. They are away from the rest of the community [the classroom] yet it is really the child’s environment that is affecting their ability to learn. The “culturally devalued sets of relationships” as noted in this article, exist in the classroom and probably home environment itself! Lack of reading from their families, lack of connection with their teacher…this all leads to a disconnection to the “citizenship in school.” The defect these children are presumed to have is truly not at the fault of their own, and it is proven when we, as college students, go into the classroom and recognize that these students are able when we motivate them and show them that they are capable of doing the work; that they can read if they are taught from a different perspective, or just listened to, as the previous quote stated. Listening is truly a key to getting away from the disabled label and moving toward a education where students are viewed as abled.
The picture above represents all of the people involved in the child's psychological developement, even if those people are unaware of it. All children are observant and reflect the actions of those around them, which affects their developemental learning process.

In our social work 240 class, we were taught that rather than looking at people with disabilities, we should look at the ways they are able. Unfortunately, sometimes people tend to think that those with a mental or physical defect, such as Down Syndrome, separates them intellectually from the majority of people.

“A sense of reciprocity or shared value exists in relationships in which individuals, including those with the most severe disabilities, are recognized as thinking, feeling, caring human beings with personalities all their own. Though we may construe such traits to be intrinsic characteristics of the person that then set the conditions for citizenship, in actuality they cannot emerge, or indeed exist, apart from one's connection to the community” (10).

            This section of the article means that not all people innately have kind-hearted personalities. They have to experience caring treatment from other people. Then they mirror these actions and adapt the qualities. I believe this part of the article insinuates that in general, most people think that people who have a disability are automatically nice. However, towards the end of the quote, it says that these disabled people need a community involvement in order to attain these qualities. In essence, they need social communication where they learn how to connect to people. This “sense of reciprocity” needs to exist in school. If children feel welcome, they are more apt to want to learn. Therefore, students with Down Syndrome and other mental/physical defects should be invited into the typical classroom setting in order for the rest of the children to understand they are capable of learning as well, despite that their developmentally different. This will make the disabled students feel welcome and motivated to learn and socialize with the other students. Again, this will move toward the idea of looking at them as abled rather than disabled.

This video support Kliewer's article and proves that students labeled with disablities are not much different than the rest of the children. 
In the video, it is said that children with Down Syndrome have:
"Reading and writing just like the rest of his third grade classmates" 
"most children with down syndrome have moderate learning disablities"
"Children with Down Syndrome learn to read and do math in much the same order as typical children." They are mostly "visual" learners"
In the video it also says "classmates were likely be more accepting of people with disabilities"
The website at the end of the video is linked in the blog.
The beginning of the website says "diversity...challenging stereotypes" our class :]

Lastly, what were some of your experiences in Elementary, middle or high school? Did you have an inclusive group of students? Do you think they were integrated in the classroom well enough so they learned effectively, just as if they were like the rest of the children in the classroom?

No comments:

Post a Comment