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Both Sides of the Table

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


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 4: Autistethnography, by Elizabeth Grace


It is a surprise that in our society it is not more disabling to live your whole life unaware that folding the symbolic kissing cherry blossoms together just so creates a regular pentagonal dodecahedron. But I am glad people can live fulfilling lives that way, because does anybody wish ill to people who are without that inner visual ability to properly spin things? I had wanted to insert a picture here, for the love of you, the reader, who may be one of these people (who, according to all the statistical lore flying around, are now a large, but lessening, majority). But I cannot do that because of the typesetting costs. However, I can direct you to the URL of a magnificent rendering. Here is where you should direct your browser if you want to see this thing, the dodecahedron, that will, if you memorize it well enough to be able to spin it around in your head while changing its colors, enable you to loiter for ages with the greatest of ease, astonishing onlookers with your ability to do what they mistakenly believe is nothing whatsoever. Because you have chosen to read this book, you deserve to see this:

So I will tell you about my schooling, or some of it, in bits I can remember, highlights, things that stand out. Now I am an education researcher, and a teacher of other education researchers and teachers. Maybe the reader can make inferences.

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