Sunday, April 17, 2011

Citizenship in School:Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome

Hyperlinks, Quotes, Reflection:
 I felt this video would be a good introduction to Christopher Kliewer's Schooling Children with Down Syndrome. This reminded me of Christine Durovich's writing, "Knock it off! Knock it off! Becky is a girl who has cerebral palsy...She's not allowed in school because of her handicaps. I think her school should just knock it off and let her in. She needs an education. Just because she is handicapped doesn't mean she can't learn. She just got to do what she can do, which can be just about anything." (pg.93)
            Going off of Chrsitine's quote that instantly made me think of what one of John Mcgough's siblings noted on page 86, "...he's accepted for what he is, not what he isn't. And (therefore) he can concentrate on what he can do, instead of being shown or being told what he can't do."
             And this ofcoarse relates directly to what we have previously discussed in class about creating a safe environment in order to enhance learning.

                       I thought this article was amazing! I had a bit of difficulty with the language at times but it kept me very engaged. The problem I have with it is that it made my mind active in so many different ways that I do not know how to sum it up. As I was reading this I kept drifting off into experiences I have had in my personal life that relate to this. I feel like I have learned so much just by reading this because I agreed with so much of what was said. Page 73, "As Douglas Biklen has outlined, "society itself is hurt when schools act as cultural sorting machines..."" That quote as well as the surrounding text helped me really understand and apply the logic behind Jeannie Oakes Tracking:Why Schools Need to Take Another Route. When I read Oakes' piece I was sort of left feeling unsure as to why tracking is so negative and the consequences behind it.
            I feel like there is so much to reflect upon in this article that it is difficult to limit and choose what to talk about.

              With tracking in mind I then came across on pg 81 Gardner's," such valued patterns for solving problems and fashioning products." It then goes on to say that only two of these seven are emphasized in traditional schools and that Gardner suggests probably 10,000 more possibilities can be added to this list of seven. This made me think of Heather's blog about Tracking, in the blog she states, "Doing this(tracking) prevents children from really advancing because the teacher styles and “day to day learning experience” differs. However, I feel that sometimes it ok if the learning style is different because some kids just learn. There are actually many different ways, seven to nine, see them in detail here. 
Heather had actually already had Gardner's list of patterns of learning posted.

            I felt like this article wasn't just about people/students with Down Syndrome, I felt it related to everything we have been talking about so far in this class. I feel that Down Syndrome could be replaced with any negative stereotype that prevents from reaching one's learning potential. I feel as though this was an excellent article choice to follow Patrick J. Finn's Literacy with an Attitude and Oakes piece on tracking because those articles left me feeling upset about these issues and I wanted an answer. Well I think Kliewer provides one as well as gives stories of proof that it works.
          Proof that there is a solution was, to me, when reading about how Shayne Robbins at Shoshone School (starting pg. 83) "..saw incompetence as a perception ascribed by others who misunderstood the meaning of the child's performance." Reading these stories made me realize how much I was effected by tracking growing up as well as my boyfriend. We exchanged stories about how things made us feel in school and how much it hurt our self esteem, which then led to not trying or being engaged in classes. We were labeled as having ADD or ADHD and never looked at for what we can do. It was always about what you are doing poorly on and how you can improve rather than about what you are doing well in. I also believe greatly in what it says on pg 91, "Fundamental to constructivist teaching is a respect for each student as both an active agent in the learning process and an essental member of the learning community." I feel that our world is so competative that it forces us to have both a winner and a loser. This makes me think of the natural horsemanship that I follow thru Pat and Linda Parelli. They believe in having everyone be a winner so they have started their own show circut in the horse world where everyone gets a blue ribbon. Everyone wins something because they each have something to contribute that makes up the community.
                        I know this video starts out a bit corney but if you really sit and watch and listen to what Pat Parelli is saying about our view on horses I feel parallels what Christopher Kliewer and Shayne Robbins says about the view of Down Syndrome. They are all labels that just hinder us from benefiting from one another as a community. Parelli says to "look at it thru the horses point of view" which I think is exactly what is said in Kliewer's article about how, " voice is silenced, and children (horses + people) come to realize their own self-worth through the unconditional acceptance of one another" and how "...opportunity cannot existe outside of community built on recognition of individual value." (pg 74-75) I think that Pat Parelli demonstrates in the horse world just what Shayne Robbins demonstrates in the classroom. Both Shayne and Parelli seem to see every student and/or horse's supposed nonconformity instead as natural human diversity. I think it is amazing how beneficial and motivating it can be if your teacher looks at your adversities as a source of "strength that could be supported by the (school) community in order that it add a unique and valuable dimension to that community." I think it has everything to due with mutual respect.
                   This made me think of a very famous song by the Beatles, All You Need is Love.
When analyzing and over analyzing myself and how I have been influenced and if things were taught to me differently..etc...I then began to think about how to motivate and I came across another RSA Animate film that interested me:     

What I would like to talk about in class is our transforming society and how to overcome this challenge of erasing negative attitudes and stereotypes. I thought of how reality tv is even changing because it is losing its that society is becoming aware of how ignorant these prejudices are they must change things. One example is the show American Idol. This show used to have three judges that were known for constant bickering and also strongly putting people down, calling them names and making fun of them. Apparently this got old and is no longer being seen as acceptable, cool or funny so in order for the show to keep its audience it had to change its judging pannel. The pannel is now made up of three new judges who seem to get along well and be much more supportive of the contestants. We are making a difference!
I also want to talk about how easily we are influenced, how we learn often by seeing things so I realized how powerful tv is. Things that are not reality are now being seen on tv so therefore, if seeing is believing than we now have so much more pressure on us to be these things that we see although it is not really reality.

I hope this post made sense! My article is FILLED with highlighter marks, notes and just covered with me jotting down my ideas while reading. It was a little bit much for me to try to contain and explain!


  1. such a great post, Alycia! I can see how this article triggered so many different things in your brain. Great connections!!

  2. Lol what Dr. Bogad said, almost every post is like coming out of class i know that much more lol. However the comedian Josh Blue is hilairous