Autoethnographies of Educators Learning and Teaching With/In [Dis]ability
Introduction: What Dis Is, Why Itz Here, by Phil Smith
This Book Is Liz’s Fault
One fall afternoon, a couple of years ago, I was working on my computer at the university, responding to an email from a student with an advising question. I heard a knock at my office door, turned around, and found a tall woman with short red hair standing at the door. “Liz!” I said. “Come in!” I turned my desk chair around to face her, and pulled out a chair for her to sit down at the table.
Liz was one of my graduate students, taking a second class with me, this one about families with members with a disability. With a quick smile, ready laugh, and a keen, ironic sensibility, she had made an impression on me the previous fall when she had taken an introductory course in education and disability studies. She had great questions, good answers, and written a terrific paper a year ago. I was glad to have her back in class.
Liz and I exchanged pleasantries, and then she got down to business. “I have an idea for a final project in your class,” she said, and then smiled, almost sheepishly. “But it’s a paper, not one of those other kinds of projects.” I encouraged students to represent their learning and knowledge in creative ways, outside the boundaries of typical graduate course student papers. They could make a video, or sew a quilt, or make a painting. One student made a wooden bowl. Others...
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