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Practicing Disability Studies in Education

Acting Toward Social Change


Edited By David J. Connor, Jan W. Valle and Chris Hale

Practicing Disability Studies in Education: Acting Toward Social Change celebrates the diversity of contemporary work being developed by a range of scholars working within the field of Disability Studies in Education (DSE). The central idea of this volume is to share ways in which educators practice DSE in creative and eclectic ways in order to rethink, reframe, and reshape the current educational response to disability. Largely confined to the limitations of traditional educational discourse, this collective (and growing) group continues to push limits, break molds, assert the need for plurality, explore possibilities, move into the unknown, take chances, strategize to destabilize, and co-create new visions for what can be, instead of settling for what is. Much like jazz musicians who rely upon one another on stage to create music collectively, these featured scholars have been – and continue to – riff with one another in creating the growing body of DSE literature. In sum, this volume is DSE «at work.»
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7. Practicing What We Teach: The Benefits of Using Disability Studies in an Inclusion Course



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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