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A Child, A Family, A School, A Community

A Tale of Inclusive Education


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 13. Teaching in My City


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· 13 ·


In preparing to teach my first class to a mix of pre-service and in-service teachers at Hunter College on the inclusion of students with disabilities in general education I read many articles and watched many videos. I began to analyze both my own experiences as a parent of a child with serious disabilities who was included successfully in a general education classroom, as well as my experiences as a teacher in an inclusive school. As I prepared, I was witness to a marriage of my personal and professional lives. I would go as far as to say that this book was born from the opportunity to teach classes of current and future teachers. It was their excitement at hearing the real life stories that gave me the motivation to write and it was their questions that prompted much of this text.

One of the most thought provoking works I came across was a video of the Axis Dance Company. It is a 4-minute dance performed by two dancers, one of whom is in a wheelchair. In this short work the able-bodied dancer moves her body in ways designed to duplicate the smoothness, the roundness of the wheelchair. Her body twists in new ways as she is the one to bend to her partner. He moves with a grace unthinkable and together they create an art form above and beyond what any able bodied dancer might...

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