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A Child, A Family, A School, A Community

A Tale of Inclusive Education

Series:

Diane Linder Berman and David J. Connor

This book is a true story of one family’s journey into inclusive education. Having previously been told that her son Benny had "failed to function" in two exclusionary special education classrooms in New York City, Berman’s family set off in search of a school where Benny would be accepted for who he was, while having the opportunity to grow and flourish academically, socially, and emotionally alongside his brother, Adam. Connor’s interest was piqued when Berman shared her desire to document the ways in which the new school community had supported Benny throughout the years. Together, they thought, surely other teachers, school and district level administrators, parents of children with and without disabilities, teacher educators, and student teachers, could learn from such a success story?

The result of their collaboration is this book in which Berman skillfully narrates episodes across time, describing ways in which children, teachers, educational assistants, parents, and a principal came to know Benny—developing numerous and often creative ways to include him in their classrooms, school, and community. Connor’s commentaries after each chapter link practice to theory, revealing ways in which much of what the school community seems to "do naturally" is, in fact, highly compatible with a Disability Studies in Education (DSE) approach to inclusive education. By illuminating multiple approaches that have worked to include Benny, the authors invite educators and families to envision further possibilities within their own contexts.

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Chapter 9. Setting Goals: Letting the Child be the Guide

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· 9 ·

SETTING GOALS: LETTING THE CHILD BE THE GUIDE

The Flagpole, November 2011

Shortly after school is out, children begin to play. The small playground is full and many kids spill over onto the front lawn, which stretches from the entrance of the school to the driveway, spanning the length of the auditorium. The flag waves in the center. This patch of land is not really meant for running feet, as the official field lies in the back of the school, and measures at least twenty times the size. A larger playground also stands in back, but it is hard to convince tired parents to make their way around to the rear. Also this space is bordered on two sides by bushes and rocks, creating nooks and crannies that become fantastical places like castles or ships in the fertile minds of these youngsters.

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