Sunday, November 24, 2013

“Schooling Children with Down Syndrome” Main Argument

For this blog post I will be discussing the main argument for Christopher Kliewer’s “Schooling Children with Down Syndrome.” This article has two very powerful and moving arguments:

A student with a disability should not be segregated from other students. They should be integrated with all students of different abilities.
Students with Down Syndrome or other learning disabilities should be allowed to have a chance to learn in a classroom with all types of students. Why? Because in an integrated classroom with all types of students, each student can grow, develop and learn from one another. Each student brings to the table their own strengths which in return creates a body (community) of diverse students. 

Kliewer makes two great arguments…arguments that are sadly not seen with open minds and hearts by many.

“The challenge is to erase negative attitudes about people with developmental disabilities, get rid of the stereotypes and break the barriers for people with disabilities. (Kingsley, 1996, p.6)” (p71)
 “How do we erase those negative attitudes?” in light of the fact that “people without disabilities are judging us. (Kingsley, 1996, p. 6)” (pg 71)
These two quotes remind me of the struggle from power, privilege, and difference that Johnson talks about: "Understanding how to bring dominant groups into the conversation and the solution is the biggest challenge we face.” (pg 11) This is what has to happen in order for all students to be allowed in the same classroom-those in powerful, privileged positions must get involved to help those of the less dominant groups be heard!

An organization, NDSS (The National Down Syndrome Society) is helping in making those voices heard. Here is an excerpt in the section of their website on Implementing Inclusion which explains why people are against or are in favor of inclusive classrooms:
Many children with disabilities continue to be educated in separate classrooms or schools for all or most of the day, even when their parents believe an inclusive setting would be more appropriate. WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN? Researchers have identified a variety of perceptual, cultural and emotional barriers that cause people to resist the idea of students with and without disabilities sharing the same classroom. In some cases the barrier is simply a matter of prejudice. But there are also many more complex views, including the belief that only those students with disabilities who are closer to "normal" can or should be included and the belief that the needs of students with disabilities are unique and beyond the reach of general educators.
After watching the video in class on Thursday, and my personal experience of starting to view the world from a child’s point of view I have just one question: Shouldn’t we do what is in the best interest of the child? Many parents worry that having a student with a disability in their child’s classroom will disrupt their child’s education and behavior. I found this video on the NDSS YouTube Channel which describes the friendship between Charlie and his friend, Isabelle, who has Down Syndrome. This video is from five-year-old Charlie’s point of view and the main point he is trying to make: “The differences are what makes the world so great! Everyone counts!” is the answer to why ALL children need to be integrated.  This video brought tears to my eyes! As the saying goes: “Out of the mouth of babes.”

There are many other great videos on the NDSS YouTube Channel. A lot of them discuss inclusive classrooms and education rights for students with Down Syndrome and other disabilities. The videos are over an hour long but they are definitely worth watching. I believe they talk a lot about what we learned from Kliewer’s article Cohen’s video “Going to School (Ir A La Escuela)” 

I want to end with this inspiring video. As Charlie said in the earlier video: Everyone counts! This video shows that everyone has dreams. As future teachers it is our responsibility to help those dreams come to life and I can’t wait to help make that happen! 

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