I really enjoyed this weeks reading, even though it was lengthy! Minoring in special education, I found this article to be super relatable and very informative. The first thing I want to talk about is the point that I agreed with most. What I found to be most true in this excerpt was when Kliewer said, “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” (Kliewer, p.83). In other schools ive worked in, I have seen the children with disabilities in their own separate classrooms where they only have interactions with other disabled children. Just as Vygotsky, I believe this is no way for them to learn and improve upon their skills. I firmly believe that inclusive classrooms are the way to go. This will create a sense of equality and will hopefully elimintate words like, ‘retarded’. I also looked up some other benefits of inclusion:
1. Families’ visions of a typical life for their children can come true.
All parents want their children to be accepted by their peers, have friends and lead “regular” lives. Inclusive settings can make this vision a reality for many children with disabilities.
2. Children develop a positive understanding of themselves and others.
When children attend classes that reflect the similarities and differences of people in the real world, they learn to appreciate diversity. Respect and understanding grow when children of differing abilities and cultures play and learn together.
3. Friendships develop.
Schools are important places for children to develop friendships and learn social skills. Children with and without disabilities learn with and from each other in inclusive classes.
4. Children learn important academic skills.
In inclusive classrooms, children with and without disabilities are expected to learn to read, write and do math. With higher expectations and good instruction children with disabilities learn academic skills.
5. All children learn by being together.
Because the philosophy of inclusive education is aimed at helping all children learn, everyone in the class benefits. Children learn at their own pace and style within a nurturing learning environment.
I know for a fact that all of these things are true about inclusion through my own experiences in an inclusive center. This brings me to my next point, the part that I could relate to most was Shayne and her classroom. While I was a junior in high school, I had the privilege of working at The Trudeau Center in Warwick. In the Trudeau Center there is an education center called Crayons. Crayons is one of the few fully inclusive and accredited programs that serves as a leader in providing developmentally appropriate, family centered programming for young children and their families. While here I got to work with two year olds with varying developmental disabilities. It was an experience that I will always cherish, and never forget. Prior to volunteering here, I always told myself I would never be able to work with special education children. I just had always assumed that I didn't have it in me to do that, however, volunteering here made me realize this was something I was born to do. I loved every minute I spent at Crayons. It was such a fulfilling and wonderful experience and I would give anything to do it again. In the room I worked in, it was a class of about 8 or so, some with down syndrome and some with less severe needs. With such a small class, it allowed me to get to know all the children on a personal and intellectual level. I was able to see about where everyone was developmentally and then make lesson plans based on everyone’s strengths. I loved watching how each child can do something so differently from one another.
Also, while reading this I couldn't help but notice the connections with Johnson and August...
Johnson says that we need to see differences and draw on them, not ignore them. Even though he is referring to race, I absolutely believe this can be applied to children with disabilities. We need to be able to see the difference of disabilities between children and accept it. We need to draw upon the strengths of each child and incorporate it in the classroom, leading me to my next connection - August. When it comes to students, especially those with disabilities, the classroom needs to be a safe space for them to learn and feel comfortable with themselves and not feel judged by other students. Having an inclusive classroom where you have students of varying abilities will make the more low-performing students feel much more comfortable than the other option of having them in their own separate classroom with other kids just like them. It will make them feel more included and therefore more safe and happy in school.
The video below is about Megan Bomgaars who is a girl from Denver who has down syndrome. This girl is a force to be reckoned with, not only is she an advocate for people with down syndrome, but she is also a cheerleader and a model. These are her views on how children with down syndrome should be taught.