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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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11. Using Disability Studies in Education to Recognize, Resist, and Reshape Policy and Practices in Aotearoa New Zealand




In this chapter, I begin by describing the wider policy context in which we are working to develop inclusive education in Aotearoa New Zealand—arguably one of the countries with the fewest students (approximately 0.4%) attending separate special education services. We are still some way from achieving the Ministry of Education’s aim of a “world-class inclusive education system” or all schools being inclusive schools by 2014 (Ministry of Education, 2010). Aotearoa New Zealand, like many countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), has had a series of governments that draw on neoliberal ideologies to develop policy and practices in education and more widely. At the same time, there is a history of developments and practices that have presented opportunities to advance policies and practices that are more inclusive of all learners. My rationale for presenting this context is twofold. First, I think this shows that work towards inclusive settings and practices can continue even in a less-than-ideal environment. The second aspect is that readers from other countries may recognize similar opportunities in their own contexts, making possible new connections and ways of working. Disability studies in education (DSE) is a valuable framework for both recognizing and resisting exclusion as well as for developing policies and resources that make inclusive practices more likely and more sustainable. ← 197 | 198 →

Connor, Gabel, Gallagher, and Morton (2008) argue, “DSE itself may be seen as a counter-narrative to the prevailing and...

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