Sunday, November 16, 2014

"Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome" by Kliewer

“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," (71) says Christopher Kliewer in his chapter Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome. Children are not only being segregated depending on their social class, but also if they have a disability. Kliewer believes students learn more when combined with other children who have different learning abilities. In this chapter, he focuses on ways schools should avoid isolating children with down syndrome in a different classroom. Students with disabilities should not be educated differently. Children with special needs have to be nurtured and given additional attention, however; when they learn in a mainstream environment, students get the same education and learn from one another. As Kliewer mentions, "Vygotsky found that the culture of segregation surrounding people with disabilities actually teaches underdevelopment of thinking through the isolation of children from socially valued opportunities" (83). Like Lindsey Dickinson says, the high school we attended segregated the children with disabilities and placed them in a separate classroom. I know the students received great individual attention and were able to participate in many different opportunities such as selling snacks during advisory and grocery shopping. What I did not like was how the teacher spoke to the children. I remember a child with special needs always sat down with my friends and I at lunch until a teacher pulled him away and told him he couldn't talk to us because we distracted him from eating his lunch. I was very distraught because the teacher rather have wanted him to eat by himself instead of socializing with people. Many people look at a child with down syndrome and do not actually see the child, they see the disability. Each child should be recognized for their individual uniqueness. Children will disabilities and children who do not have a disability are no different from each other. Kliewer's excerpt reminded me of Allan Johnson's idea of "we must say the words." Both authors state we have use the word to realize and notice the problems in order to fix them. This way we are recognizing the existence of the problem in order to raise attention and think of solutions to solve it. I also found this excerpt to be very similar to Jeannie Oakes article on tracking. Kliewer and Oakes believe mixing students that come from different social classes and have different learning abilities will benefit their education. Why should students with different learning abilities deserve to be taught in a certain way, while others enjoy the benefits of high-quality work?  


  1. I really enjoyed the connections that you made between the quotes within the article and the connections with the other readings from class. It is true that we need to get rid of the steretyping when it comes to disabilities/down syndrome. Great job!

  2. I forgot about the aides always making the students sit at a separate table. I always hated that, because so many students in our class were very accepting, and would have loved having a special needs student incorporated at their lunch table. Great connection to Oakes, that hadn't occurred to me!