For my blog this week, I decided to pull quotes from Christopher Kliewer’s article “Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome."
“[Community] requires a willingness to see people as they are-different perhaps in their minds and in their bodies, but not different in their spirits or in their willingness and ability to contribute to the mosaic of society.” (73)
People come in all different shapes and sizes. Not everyone is going to look this same. That is the good thing about the world; not everyone is the same. Being different makes us unique. As Dr. Bogad says in class, we need to both “windows” and “mirrors” in the world. While reading this article and particularly this quote, I couldn’t help but think of my aunt Kate. She is a teacher in Central Falls and has polio. She uses crutches to get around. Whenever I go to the grocery store with her, people can’t help but stare as we go by. They move quickly out of the way so that she can pass through. People can’t see past the crutches. I liked this article because it talked about looking past the physical aspect of a person and learning about who they really are.
“We will not recognize the diverse contributions of those who wear obscuring labels until we move our focus from the disability and look for the complexity and individuality we take for granted in ourselves. Only getting to know a person in all his or her multifaceted individuality can cause the "huge" disability [spread] to magically shrink and assume its real proportion-only one small facet of a person.” (87)
This quote stuck out to me because I was recently talking with a woman that I work with who has a daughter who is in special education classes. The woman I work with, Jane, adopted her daughter when she was around 10 years old. Her daughter had never gone to school before, so she was placed in special education classes. Jane says that she gets annoyed when the teachers try to sound “politically correct” when it comes to talking about the special education classes. They refuse to call it “special education.” While talking with Jane, I couldn’t help but also think of Johnson's article Privilege, Power, and Difference. The teachers would not say “special education” because they did not want to offend anyone, when in reality they were making my coworker even more upset. She just wanted the teachers to call the classes by their actual name instead of avoiding conversation. It shocked me that the teachers would not call the classes "special ed" classes and made me think of the unspoken conversations that exist in the world.
“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 together, and that's what learning is. Don't tell me any of these kids are being set up to fail.” (75)
In this quote, Shayne Robbins is talking about her class that she teaches at Shoshone School. The classes are made up of “students of multiple ages and ability levels” (74). In her classroom, Shayne tries to create an environment that welcomes all of her students.Our society puts too much emphasis on labels. Not only are material things being labeled, but people are as well. There are many different labels that exist in our world today: “disabled”, “nondisabled”, “gay”, “straight”, “female”, “male”, etc. We need to remove these labels and see people for who they really are. Labels do nothing in our society except put up walls and barriers between people. If we remove the labels that are present, we can break down these barriers and create diverse environments for living.