Disability Studies in Education

For my critical summary I chose the topic of disability studies and its importance in education. This is something that I have always been very interested in and being employed at SaskAbilities has affirmed my passion around this topic. I am excited to explore this topic and learn more about it.

One article that I will explore is Disability Studies in Education: The Need for a Plurality of Perspectives on Disabilities by Susan Baglieri, Jan W Valle, David J Connor, and Deborah J Gallagher. In this article, the authors focus on the history of special education and its importance, and how we need to create a broader understanding of disability. The article discusses how instead of modifying a lesson based on what we believe a student can or can’t do, that we need to offer a spectrum of possibilities and teach in a way that learners can engage. I came across one quote that really stood out for me, and that I feel very strongly about.

“Disability is an idea, not a thing. It is not that people do not vary or differ from one another in sometimes very noticeable ways, but to call or think of some of those differences as “disabilities” is to make a social judgment, not a neutral or value-free observation. Put differently, it is not the way in which people vary or the differences they have in comparison to others but what we make of those differences that matters.”

Another article that I came across was by Nirmala Erevelles, Understanding Curriculum as Normalizing Text: disability studies meets curriculum theory. In this article, Erevelles discusses that “[…] lost in the shadows, is any critical discussion of disability in curriculum theory.” The author questions what conduction produced the distances that exist between the ‘disabled’ and ‘normal’ world and how educators can create a curriculum that would enable all students, both academically, and socially. Erevelles analyses how we need to understand and deconstruct what society views as the norm to be able create an inclusive curriculum.

Both articles emphasize the importance of understand disability and what creates the distinction between an “able” and “unable” student so we can make a difference. My next steps will be to dig deeper into these articles as well as to find at least one more that relates. I hope to find ways in which we, as future educators, can expand and share knowledge on disability and create an inclusive classroom in which everyone can learn.

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