Saturday, April 11, 2015

"Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome"


Christopher Kliewer, in "Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome," argues that traditional special education classrooms are segregated from the community, which makes students with conditions like down syndrome be seen as powerful contributors to society. Students with developmental conditions are commonly seen as being uneducable and therefore are placed in secluded classrooms and communities, which create unjust and frustrating situations for these people. Kliewer argues that by accepting all students through allowing children with developmental disabilites to learn in classrooms with a variety of different students, all children will be seen as valuable and respected for their individuality. Kliewer stresses that people must stop defining others by their conditions or backgrounds and accept them as an individual in order to have a truly democratic society. By doing so we can create, "actual educational arenas where all students are welcomed, no voice is silenced, and children come to realize their own self-worth through the unconditional acceptance of one another" (74). Kliewer analyzes, "the meaning of school citizenship for students with Down Syndrome as it relates to (1) literacy development, of central importance in experiencing school success, and (2) friendship formation, a possible consequence of being recognized as communally valuable" (74).

I feel that this article relates to August's, "Safe Spaces" article because they both speak of segregating certain people from society because of their differences. Sometimes people think that those with differences are less valuable then themselves because they have qualities that do not reflect the ideals of society, as seen in SCWAAMP and Delpit's "culture of power." Therefore, they try to keep these people secluded from society because they have these differences and do not know how to or do not want to interact with them. Learning to accept all these groups for their individualities will lead to a true democratic society, where everyone is valued and respected. Through encouraging this, each person will be allowed a sense of belonging in their community.

I think that Kliewer brings up a great point and tells a lot of inspiring stories. I never realized that special education classrooms are so segregated and how introducing those with disabilities to community programs and lots of different people can help their skills improve so much. I really learned a lot from this reading and thought that it was really interesting. 

Talking point: Has anyone experienced special education seclusion or inclusion in their high schools?


  1. Great job in your blog again this week!
    My high school was pretty dedicated to making sure the special education students were well integrated in the school community; their classrooms were in the same hallways as the rest of the students and they could freely walk the halls and interact with everyone as long as their aids were with them in case they needed assistance.
    Again, awesome job on your blog! :)

  2. I also connected the article to "Safe Spaces" and there is even a quote in the article where one of the kids refers to their community as a "safe space". When people accept each other's differences, everyone can feel safe and happy. Great job!

  3. Great job on your blog. I also connected my blog to "Safe Spaces". I feel like these to articles have many connections because they both talk about accepting and including everyone. Lastly, I loved the quotes you picked out from the article.