1) "Now we know that people with disabilities can learn and have a full, rich life. 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)" (Kliewer 71).
Schooling Children with Down Syndrome provides others with a look into the educational opportunities that can be available to students with Down Syndrome when society's negative judgments of those with disabilities is disregarded. Those who are considered less privileged may not fit into the mold created by society. This is where judgment arises, and this is where difference evolves. Everyone should be valued. We were created to be one people. Why can't we allow for this to be a reality? How can we permit for society to say otherwise? Barriers are constructed and stereotypes evolve concerning individuals with disabilities when others cast judgment on them. Kliewer quoted a line stated by Paulo Freire: "How can I dialogue if I always project ignorance onto others and never perceive my own? (p. 71)" (Kliewer 73). This is where judgment stems. How can one look negatively on another without examining his/her own faults? Why should he or she perceive the innocent in a negative light in the first place? In this text, Kliewer explores a number of situations in which students with Down Syndrome had their lives altered for the better when these negative barriers were broken, and when stereotypes were cast aside.
2) "How absurd to be judged by others at all, especially by those who have never experienced a disability or who are unwillingly providing us with support or who don't listen to the voices we have. (Snow, p. 12)" (Kliewer 72).
In the text, Christopher Kliewer emphasizes that dialogue is an important part of establishing community, that "democracy can only occur when no person's voice is deterministically silenced" (Kliewer 72). Society often overlooks recognizing the humanity and individuality of a single person. Society mistakenly attributes the negative to one who is diagnosed with a disability, never truly emphasizing his/her individuality and abilities. Kliewer quotes Paulo Freire in regards to this silence and judgment. Freire states that "Dialogue cannot occur... between those who deny others the right to speak their word and those whose right to speak has been denied them. (p. 69)" (Kliewer 72-73). Kliewer's text explores the challenges that students with Down Syndrome face involving society, and how community is established when their voices are heard. The examples of John Mcgough and Christine Durovich demonstrate how society can segregate those with disabilities, but when community makes an effort to work together, the silence disappears and the true individual shines through. Shayne Robbins of Shoshone School was a perfect example of a teacher who catered to each individual child, and did not segregate students due to disabilities. Rather, Shayne established a sense of community within her classroom, and valued each student while providing them each with support and beneficial learning experiences. Shayne listened to her students, and did not dismiss their dialogue (whether spoken or through motion). There is an importance and value to listening. In Schooling Children with Down Syndrome, Kliewer advocates for listening to others, and through this action, one shows that another is valued.
3) "[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. (Snow, p. 12)" (Kliewer 73).
Colleen Madison, the second-grade teacher of Lee Larson, a child with Down Syndrome, reflected on society's judgment of those with disabilities: "That's what they see, but they wouldn't be seeing him [Lee]... It's your stereotype, your mind-set" (Kliewer 84). Why does society retain such a tendency to view people differently, and to not take in regards one's strengths and individuality? With the example of John Mcgough, John's move to Mendocino was for the better. "[H]e's accepted for what he is, not what he isn't. (quoted in Andrews, 1995, p. 105)" (Kliewer 86). In Mendocino, community was formed to recognize the value and importance of each member. The establishment of community is a model that we should follow, that should already be in existence. Kliewer states that "opportunity cannot exist outside of community acceptance" (Kliewer 75). Society's perception of those with disabilities creates a false image, and results in exclusion and oppression. Kliewer reinforces this issue by writing, "It is not the individual who owns the problem; rather, the dilemma exists in the interconnected relationships that both form and hinder community" (Kliewer 94).
C) QUESTIONS/COMMENTS/POINTS TO SHARE
I found that Christopher Kliewer's Schooling Children with Down Syndrome could be connected to a number of our class readings. Two of the themes that I felt were quite present in Kliewer's text were the issues of silence and segregation:
- So many students with Down Syndrome have been segregated in their schooling due to their disability. This segregation by disability sometimes results in frustration and sadness. When teachers and schools based classroom curriculum on the individual needs of students, the results were wonderful. The case of Brown v. Board of Education initiated the Civil Rights Movement. Segregation in schools was a major issue during this time, and it resulted in unequal educational opportunities for blacks, as well as unfair treatment by society. When Plessy v. Ferguson was overturned, racial segregation was deemed unconstitutional, and schools would later work to offer equal educational opportunities.
- In "Aria," Richard Rodriguez explored the frustrations of having his voice silenced due to having to deal with the language barrier. Kliewer's text presents the issues created by society that are posed at students with Down Syndrome and disabilities. There are barriers in the educational field regarding children with disabilities, and these barriers result in segregation and silence. So many voices have been silenced due to society's recognition of disabilities, rather than the recognition and value of abilities and individuality.
Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Behring Center. Separate Is Not Equal: Brown v. Board of Education. Smithsonian; Zamore Design; Morgan Stanley. Web. 01 Nov. 2013.
Rodriguez, Richard. "Aria." Tongue-Tied: The Lives of Multilingual Children in Public Education. Ed. Otto Santa Ana. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2004. 34-39. Print.