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Both Sides of the Table

Autoethnographies of Educators Learning and Teaching With/In [Dis]ability


Edited By Philip Smith

Both Sides of the Table is a set of evocative, heartfelt, personal, and revealing stories, told by educators about how their experiences with disability, personally and in the lives of family members, has affected their understanding of disability. It uses disability studies and critical theory lenses to understand the autoethnographies of teachers and their personal relationships with disability. The book takes a beginning look at the meaning of autoethnography as a method of inquiry, as well as how it has been (and will be) applied to exploring disability and the role of education in creating and sustaining it. The title refers to the context in which educators find themselves in Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings for students with disabilities in schools. There, educators often sit on the other side of the table from people with disabilities, their families, and their allies. In these chapters, the authors assume roles that place them, literally, on both sides of IEP tables. They inscribe new meanings – of relationships, of disability, of schools, of what it means to be an educator and a learner. It is a proposal (or perhaps a gentle manifesto) for what research, education, disability, and a utopian revolutionary politics of social transformation could and should look like.
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Chapter 2: Who Knew School Could Be So Cruel? Tales of a Learning Disabled Student at an Institution of Higher Learning by dené granger


My first memory of a dyslexic moment, prior to a diagnosis, is from 1st grade, when our first graded assignment was returned to us. I was quite pleased with my 76, as I couldn't even count that high. Patiently completing the assignment, I double and triple checked my work. My care was evident in the fact that I was one of the last ones to complete the assignment. It was one of those worksheets where we had to fill-in-the-blanks using a word-bank. Then I saw my peers’ grades. I didn't realize that we had to copy the words letter for letter, exactly as they appeared in the word-bank. If I had known that, things would have been different.


Probably near that same year, I asked my mother how to spell "maw-maw.” I was writing a letter to my grandmother, and my mother told me she wasn't sure how to spell it: Try m-a-w-m-a-w; does that look right? She wasn't sure. It didn't look right to me at all, but I didn't understand how to translate a French sounding alphabet to my English frame of reference for spelling.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. In Southwest Louisiana, a lot of people still speak French, and my great-grandparents did not speak English. When my mom was a schoolgirl, speaking French at school was against the rules. ← 37 | 38 → Many teachers would use this as an excuse to bully students. Some would hit the student’s hand with a...

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