Acting Toward Social Change
Edited By David J. Connor, Jan W. Valle and Chris Hale
7. Practicing What We Teach: The Benefits of Using Disability Studies in an Inclusion Course
DAVID J. CONNOR
In this chapter I describe how a course that I have taught on inclusive education for 15 years has changed and evolved, largely through my interaction with—and adoption of—disability studies (DS) and disability studies in education (DSE) to inform readings, practices, assignments, and assessments. By describing the architecture of the course, I highlight how a framing of disability using DS/DSE theory within what is largely a traditional special education program serves to challenge and inform students’ rethinking of familiar topics such as: challenging stereotypes; working with parents; instructional planning, delivery, and assessment of diverse learners; managing classrooms; selecting responsible curricula, and; engaging with universal design for learning (UDL). The chapter features personal observations, anecdotes of students, and a selection of artifacts within inclusive pedagogy used—all of which coalesce to purposely destabilize the current educational worldview of students, while simultaneously preparing them to work within diverse classrooms. In sum, the purpose of this chapter is to share some ways that DS/DSE can be put into practice.
In the Beginning: Teaching Inclusively
Once upon a time, long, long ago (in the early 90s), I was a classroom teacher working within a special education department within a large urban school. Unbeknownst to faculty there, Madeleine Will, assistant secretary of education for the U.S. Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, had initiated a policy called the Regular Education Initiative (REI) in which ← 123 | 124 → students with “mild” disabilities were...
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