Friday, April 4, 2014

Our Culture of Segregation: Kliewer Response

Quote Post

Christopher Kliewer’s “Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome” uses a pretty big vocabulary, especially in the beginning of the chapter. But as I made it through the rest and read all the fascinating stories about a teacher and different children’s experiences with schooling and disabilities, I found a few quotes that really struck me, so I decided I’d make this another quote post. J
"The framework of utilitarianism maintains that democracy exists as a bureaucratic arrangement apart from the general population and is charged with the "protection [of individuals] from external threat and provision of the conditions for personal aggrandizement" (Soltis,1993, P:151).Those who appear not to make use of these conditions (supposedly open to all), or who appear to lack the potential to accrue privileges, are systematically devalued as less than full citizens -charged as they are with having the differences that matter (72).”

At first, all I could say was “…Translation, please?” This is some intelligent writing, but it’s hard to understand that unless I simplify it a little first. What Kliewer is saying here is that our society revolves around the usefulness and abilities of individuals. The basic idea of this is that democracy exists as a separate governing system apart from the general public, and its job is to protect individuals from outside threats and provide people with opportunities to better themselves. Those who don’t take advantage of these opportunities (which are supposedly open to everyone) or who appear to lack the potential to gain privileges are devalued in our society and seen as less than citizens because of their differences.
This goes back to the idea of SCWAAMP from the beginning of the semester, particularly the idea that society values the able-bodied and able-minded. Anyone considered not “normal” by those standards isn’t valued as a citizen simply because they are different and denied help.

“Why do the higher functions fail to develop in an abnormal child? Not because the defect directly impedes them or makes their appearance impossible…The underdevelopment of the higher functions is a secondary structure on top of the defect. Underdevelopment springs from what we might call the isolation of an abnormal child from his collective (83).”

This part jumped out at me for a couple reasons. First, I was surprised to learn that children with mental disabilities are able to get to the same level as children without disabilities just by integrating them with their peers. I guess I had held the general misconception that all disabled children are unable to learn, so this opened my eyes to the reality that they can learn and gain skills like any other child. This also connected in my mind to the articles we read last week by Oakes and Finn about how separating schools by ability actually does more harm and causes the so-called “less-able” students to fall further behind in their education. By separating the students with disabilities, the schools actually limit their education even more. This is the real cause of the skill gap for students with disabilities. If only schools would integrate them into classrooms with the rest of their peers, they would learn so much more. Not only that, but as Kliewer’s research revealed, if the other students could see how these children’s minds work, they would also be able to gain new skills and ways of thinking, like how Isaac taught his peers to “dance to a book”. It works both ways.
“I have Down syndrome, but I am not handicapped” (93).
This statement that Kliewer included from a student with Down syndrome was so inspiring. In just a few words, this student, Christine, separates the ideas of a mental/physical condition and the ability to learn. She may have been born differently than most others, but that does not mean she is any less capable of learning or anything else.
I came across this video of another student with Down syndrome that speaks about her abilities. It’s a pretty eye-opening speech, and it’s spot-on with Kliewer’s argument. I'll let this inspirational girl take it from here.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Sorry I had to delete the other comment, anyhow, I just wanted to tell you that I loved your blog post this week! I loved all the quotes that chose and the comments that you made after each one. Nice Job!

  3. Hey I loved your blog this week ! you chose great quotes! And that video that you put at the end was fantastic. That girl was adorable and inspiring! Thanks for sharing it ! So overall, awesome post Julie !

  4. Julie, your blog this week is really amazing and the video at the end was perfect. I had the same "translation please" moment too! Thanks for sharing!