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How Teaching Shapes Our Thinking About Disabilities

Stories from the Field

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Edited By David J. Connor and Beth A. Ferri

This book purposefully connects practice to research, and vice versa, through the use of deeply personal stories in the form of autoethnographic memoirs. In this collection, twenty contributors share selected tales of teaching students with dis/abilities in K-12 settings across the USA, including tentative triumphs, frustrating failures, and a deep desire to understand the dynamics of teaching and learning. The authors also share an early awareness of significant dissonance between academic knowledge taught to them in teacher education programs and their own experiential knowledge in schools. Coming to question established practices within the field of special education in relation to the children they taught, each author grew increasingly critical of deficit-models of disability that emphasized commonplace practices of physical and social exclusion, dysfunction and disorders, repetitive remediation and punitive punishments. The authors describe how their interactions with children and youth, parents, and administrators, in the context of their classrooms and schools, influenced a shift away from the limiting discourse of special education and toward become critical special educators and/or engage with disability studies as a way to reclaim, reframe, and reimagine disability as a natural part of human diversity. Furthermore, the authors document how these early experiences in the everydayness of schooling helped ground them as teachers and later, teacher educators, who galvanized their research trajectories around studying issues of access and equality throughout educational structures and systems, while developing new theoretical models within Disability Studies in Education, aimed to impact practices and policies.
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About the authors

About the authors

Extract

David J. Connor (Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University) is Professor Emeritus of Hunter College (Learning Disabilities Program) and the Graduate Center (Urban Education Program), City University of New York. He is the author/editor of numerous books and articles, many in collaboration with Beth A. Ferri.

Beth A. Ferri (Ph.D., University of Georgia) is Professor of Inclusive Education and Disability Studies at Syracuse University, where she also coordinates the doctoral program in Special Education. She, frequently in collaboration with David J. Connor, has published widely on the intersections of race, disability, and gender.

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