For this blog post I am going to focus on a few quotes from the article. But first, when I started reading Christopher Kliewers’ “Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome” I related it directly to Oakes. In the first paragraph the ideas of a down syndrome student named Mia are stated and how she felt segregated from those who do not have disabilities and their opportunities. This one sentence relates to the idea of tracking and the controversies in schools today. Some individuals view this idea as unfair to the non disabled peers while others view it as unfair to the disabled peers who are being segregated.
Some thoughts by Douglas Biklen are outlined that also relate to the idea of tracking, “society itself is hurt when schools act as cultural sorting machines- locations that ‘justify a competitive ethic that marginalizes certain students or groups of students…that legitimize
discrimination and devaluation on the basis of the dominant society’s preferences in matters of ability, gender, ethnicity, and race… and that endorse an elaborate process of sorting by perceived ability and behavior’”. In this statement, it relates the placement of individuals based on their ability, gender, ethnicity, and race to society’s preference. So, in other words, if an individual is not what is “normal” to society then they cannot be placed with other individuals because they are different. Biklen talks of the competitive manner that is present with these preferences. With this, if an individual is different in any way they are being segregated because they do not seem good enough. But, as I continued to read this article, a teacher named Shayne talks about her experiences with including disabled students in her classroom with nondisabled students. Through these experiences I can understand how passionate Shayne is about teaching. She only looks for the good in an individual and uses these strengths to allow them to learn. This shows the good that can come from inclusion classrooms and how the negative, competitive energy from tracking does not need to be present. In her experiences, “Shayne recognized a child’s nonconformity as natural human diversity; a source of strength that could be supported by the school community in order that it add unique and valuable dimension to that community”. So, in other words Shayne understands that no individual is the same. Everyone is different in some way and brings different strengths and weaknesses to the table. But, each of these differences are what make the world go round and that allow everything to be possible. Each strength that an individual has, can be used to help another individual and overall to better our world. With this, it is seen that everyone deserves an equal opportunity. Just because someone is different it does not mean that they are not capable but that they may need to go about specific activities differently. But it is most important to remember that being different is okay. Everyone was put on this world for some reason!