Monday, April 13, 2009

Talking Points #9 Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome By: Christopher Kliewer

Kliewer argues that we have to learn to get along as individuals and as citizens based on relationships built on mutual respect because all people have value. This is extended to anyone with disabilities because as a member of society, their presence is just as important as everyone else's.

1. "So what," she continued, "if you don't fit exactly what your supposed to? You know, it's not like I fit many people's idea of what a teacher's supposed to be like."

This reminded me a little bit about how our class is run. We are not evaluated by a midterm and final exam. I really like that this is the way our class is run. I fear the words midterm and final. In our class, we are graded on many different things. Mainly, we are graded on whether or not we make an honest attempt to read information and spend time to write our thoughts down in connection to other authors. I get a lot out of this class and it is not run like every other teacher. Most of my classmates agree that they like how we get to read and interpret readings and offer our thoughts on the subject. I feel like kids with disabilities should be judged this way too. It is still possible to tell if a kid with a disability actually tried on an assignment. That is the proper way to grade. In gym class, we were not graded on how well we played basketball and how many points we scored. That would be unfair to us. This is similar to grading students with disabilities on the quality of their output. The quality of students' effort should be the rubric for scoring.

2. "The more closely the ordering of words in a problem parallels the order of symbols in the equation, the easier the problem is to solve and the more students will like it. Seeing mathematics as a way of understanding the world, of illuminating a phenomenon, as a kind of conversation or enterprise into which even a young person can become meaningfully involved is a rare occurence. And yet, how can genuine understanding ever begin to come about with such an attitude?"

I have found this method of using steps and matching symbols is the easiest way to teach kids math. I have seen in textbooks not that next to each question it says "see page ..." and it gives students a step by step process to solving problems. This has always been the easiest way for me to learn math too. What separated me from most other students is that I would sit there and play with the problem and try all sorts of different methods to answering the same question. I love to explore issues and see them as multifaceted whenever possible so that I can grow as a learner. There is a down side to this method. I have seen students struggle so much with math when they have to really think about a question and it is not straight forward. This is why word problems are always seen as "the worst." It requires the learner to recognizes things out of their usual context. So, as Gardner argues, how can we have a genuine understanding of math when it is delivered to students in this step by step manner. They are losing out on all the connections between math and the real world when they see it on a worksheets without meaning. Furthermore, when they see these problems out of context they have so much trouble figuring out what to do. Gardner also proposes expaned ideas to learning in schools that more closely relate to the real world. I really like and agree with the need to include his seven ideas in the curriculum. For example, I really like number seven. If kids can be taught to deeply understand their self and their choices, we may be able to teach some students to stray from crime and other violent acts. It will give people a way to see just how much thier choices affect other people. This would be a good place to have a handicapped person talk about how other people's choices have affected him or her and will allow students to think deeply about how they make decisions in the future.

3. "Colleen Madison agreed with Shayne that no child was inherently an intellectual burden to a classroom; in fact, she argued, each student contributed a unique and potentially valuable dimension to the web of relationships that formed a school community."

This quotation from the reading really meant a lot to me that someone else feels the same way I do. School should first and foremost, teach its students about the people that make up the world and teach students that it is only when all different types of people are accepted and respected for the value they have that we can have peace and happiness in the world. I love that our class is diverse because I get to learn first hand from many different types of people. As long as we can respect and value the opinions of others, we can learn so much about who they are and their place in our community. Working together is very important and learning how to work and cooperate with a divers group of people makes the workplace so much more productive and easy. I just wish this quotation could serve as a common rule of thumb for all people so that we can learn not to judge others so quickly. There is so much to learn from people different than ourselves and if more people had that same view I feel like this world would be so much more fun for everyone.

I had a little bit of trouble finding Kliewer's voice in his article. There are so many examples about what other authors think that it is hard to see exactly where he stands. This article did remind me about Johnson alot. From a young age, I was always taught not to stare when I saw disabled people. This is a good rule of thumb for a young child. No one likes to be stared at. However, I am older now and as Johnson would argue, we need to practice "saying the words." I have been so used to ignoring disabled people by not staring that I have ignored talking about disabilites in general. I always have to think of the proper speech used and I have to be careful not to offend anyone. It is an uncomfortable feeling similar to the feeling to talking about orientation, race, and sex. As a straight white male, I have felt a lot of this discomfort in class because I feel guilty that I have so many "given" opportunities over others. I am not disabled and also feel a little guilt about that too. I talk to the "man in the wheelchair" who works in Donovan and I am always extra tense around him being careful not to talk about his handicapp. This is the same feeling of discomfort I get when talking about issues of race. I should be able to act normal with him because in all truth there is no reason for me to get so tense around him. Maybe one day I will work up the courage to act normal around him and maybe even one day talk about his handicapp and talk about how it affects his life today. practicing saying the words is the key to relieve that unnecessary tension.

1 comment:

  1. it is okay to feel uncomfortable... and the more you practice, the easier it gets! Just keep at it.