Sunday, November 17, 2013

Talking Points: Quotes from Kliewer’s “Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome”

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.


  1. Cathy,

    First of all I have to say that the picture of the barcode on the wrist is very powerful to me. I am a massive fan of The Hunger Games Trilogy for many reasons but the main one is that it’s a way of soothsaying for where our country could end up. Although I am labeled paranoid because of this believe the proof is growing all around us. These articles we have read show us how easily we label one another, how very few who have privilege are the ones with the power and how they control how our culture and country is run. I know-its crazy talk but I do feel very strongly about it. And I feel like the idea behind S.C.W.A.A.M.P. adds to my case.

    Able-Bodiness from S. C.W.A.A.M.P. is the focus in this article. Just because people with Down syndrome looks different or speak slower does not mean they aren’t able to do whatever they want to, including learning. But by culturally sorting them out, we keep them from learning. The three quotes you talk about here all play to the idea of their stereotypes over shadowing their individual spirits. These labels we barcode onto everyone do set them up to fail. It’s a vicious circle of judgments and placements that we can only change if we change who is in power. It starts with the community and then with those in the school system because education is power. Perhaps it’s time we lead out own revolution!

  2. Cathy,
    I also love your picture of the bar code. I like when you said " People come in all different shapes and sizes. Not everyone is going to look this same",so simple but true. Great Blog this week.

  3. Hi Cathy:
    I thought your blog was was nicely written, I really enjoyed reading it and also your choice of quotes were great. Great Job

  4. Hi Cathy,
    I enjoyed reading your blog post! You raised a lot of great points. I agree with what you wrote about "society putting too much emphasis on labels." You analyzed each quote thoroughly, and I like that you included personal reflections. I also like the pictures that you used. Great post!

  5. Hey Cathy,
    I think your blog is really great and you chose some really great quotes to talk about! I especially liked the third quote you chose about children in school not choosing to be labeled. I feel like that is an extremely important quote that sums up Kliewer's argument. We should embrace children/students as individuals!
    Great Job!

  6. Cathy,
    one section that stood out to me was when you stated that everyone is not supposed to look the same because we are not meant to. That being different is a beautiful gift. I thought your example of your Aunt Kate was very powerful because even though she has a disability i am sure she has some creative side to her. I believe this because from my experience of having a disability i learned how creative i am and i have met so many people who are creative but also suffer from a mental or physical impairment. With every fault someone might be cursed with there is a colorful side to their personality and way life. It bothers me too because people miss out when they only see the surface of someone who looks or seems to be different.