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Dismantling the Disabling Environments of Education

Creating New Cultures and Contexts for Accommodating Difference

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Edited By Peter Smagorinsky, Joseph Tobin and Kyunghwa Lee

Dismantling the Disabling Environments of Education: Creating New Cultures and Contexts for Accommodating Difference challenges assumptions that view people of difference to be "abnormal," that isolate attention to their difference solely in the individual, that treat areas of difference as matters of deficiency, and that separate youth of difference from the mainstream and treat them as pathologized. As outsiders to mainstream special education, the authors of this collection take a more social and cultural perspective that views the surrounding social environment as at least as problematic as any point of difference in any individual. Most of the scholars contributing to this volume work with preservice and inservice teachers and grapple with issues of curriculum and pedagogy. One of the primary audiences we hope to reach with this book is our colleagues and practitioners who have not made special education or disability studies the focus of their careers, but who, like we, are determined to engage with the full range of people who attend schools. Dismantling the Disabling Environments of Education: Creating New Cultures and Contexts for Accommodating Difference can be a valuable text for undergraduate and graduate courses in teacher education, as it addresses key issues of inclusion, diversity, equity, and differentiated approaches to educating the full range of students.

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Chapter Six: Confronting My Disabling Pedagogy: Reconstructing an English/Language Arts Classroom as an Enabling Context (Christopher Bass)

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CHAPTER SIX

Confronting My Disabling Pedagogy

Reconstructing an English/Language Arts Classroom as an Enabling Context

CHRISTOPHER BASS



I first realized that my ableist bias informed my teaching when I was a first-year English Ph.D. student. I clearly remember this moment of realization. I was doing research for my humanities seminar in the cavernous university library at the University of Illinois-Chicago and stumbled upon Owen and Gabel (2010), who argue that my home state of Illinois has always ranked near the bottom of the 50 states for inclusion practices. When I first read their statistics, I was shocked. I had been a high school English teacher in Illinois for eight years and almost all of my classes had at least one student with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), 504 plan, or accommodation. Up until this point, I considered myself a successful inclusion teacher of English—the subject encompassing literature, composition, and language use. I quietly closed the book and placed it back on its shelf. I was sure they were describing other teachers in other schools. However, despite my confidence, the chapter’s findings pushed me to reflect on my own inclusion training.

I still have memories of the Special Education course that I took as a requirement for my state licensure. The professor focused on the legal requirements of inclusion and methods to accommodate students. The overall tone of the course stoked fear and resentment amongst...

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