Sunday, April 6, 2014

Schooling Children with Down Syndrome, Christopher Kliewer



       I really enjoyed reading this article, the beginning required a bit of rereading, but the topics discussed were really eye opening, and the stories incorporated in it made the situations Kliewer researched come to life and be even more effective. This particular article was especially important to me because this relates directly to my major. It is important to incorporate people of all abilities into the classroom, and use all different methods to target the way that they learn best. I especially found the examples from Shayne's classroom to affect me the most, and I love how they created a school that has a main goal of inclusion.
A main topic in this article was about democracy in the classroom. An important quote was "democracy can only be achieved when not one person's voice is deterministically silenced". A phrase used to describe schools in a derogatory and discriminatory way was as "cultural sorting machines". This method is detrimental to society and discriminatory. his article also aims to end was is was once historically and culturally valued (SWAAMP). Especially what is viewed as able-bodied.  It also bothered me when they categorized all children with down syndrome as being "happy". Every child is different, and I like how Shayne spoke about how each has a different personality and  way of communicating. Kliemer's article spoke about not only the importance of inclusion in the classroom to better education, but also to prepare them for real life in communities.

          This is a great video that really speaks and gives a voice from someone with Down Syndrome about how they think they should be taught in the classroom. The video is called "Don't Limit Me!", and Megan Bomgaars is an extremely successful person who was a cheerleader, a model, and even planner, and is learning how to become a public speaker. She wants everyone to know that she should not be limited to opportunities because she has disabilities. This woman Megan Bomgaars is an incredible person, and she wanted to be taught important skills for life like power, passion, love, and independence; things beyond the classroom. Megan was able to succeed in a "normal classroom" with an aide that helped her in the classroom. A quote that really stuck to be was "don't limit me, by teaching me to depend on others". She wished to be treated equally to those in the classroom and held to the same expectations so she can one day live independently. She made a statement about setting expectations that are high, but not impossible. This is similar to Kliewer's article when he talked about Shayne's classroom and how she set a realistic goal for her co working with down syndrome to work in a movie store rather than working in Hollywood. It is important for realistic goals to be set. Another important point that Megan made was that good teachers are able to teach and learn from their students. This video was extremely inspirational and goes hand in hand with this article, but from a different perspective that makes the points in the article even more clear.


          Spread the word to end the word campaign has a goal to eliminate the R-Word, and as Johnson would say, just say the words! They aim to eliminate the word retard(ed) from everyday vocabulary. They are having people pledge through twitter, through sending a text message, through writing it on their website, or doing it as a school. This word has the ability to hurt, categorize, stereotype, and it is overall just offensive and derogatory. I believe Kliewer would agree that this campaign is beneficial to ending separated classrooms, and it gives people a small amount of knowledge about how offensive that one word can be. By pledging the campaign asks people "to stop saying the R-word as a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people. Language affects attitudes and attitudes affect actions". What I especially appreciate about this campaign is that they are aware that it is only a very small step towards ending people's view on those who have a disability. They are so much more than just disabled. In the article it spoke about how stereotypical that it is too only define them as disabled, there are so many other ways to show intelligence and capability. This campaign is also an amazing way to get raise awareness, I know this from experience. My school took part in this campaign, and as a whole our school is very supportive of those with disabilities and down syndrome. We have built lasting friendships with them and been able to see them for their unique, interesting, and intelligent people that they are.

          After reading this article, it is clear that it is important to focus on the abilities that those with down syndrome have that are beneficial to their learning as a student and in society. Instead of dwelling on the difficult things like inability to understand speech, awkwardness, sporadic movement, or frustration; it is important to utilize things such as their communicative skills or cognitive skills and highlight them. By doing this and taking the time to work with and get to know each student, it will be easier to find a teaching method that works for them. You should never just give up and deem them "uneducable", like in John's situation. He was labeled this in school, but was able to succeed later in life by being in an inclusive community that did not put a label on him. The National Down Syndrome Society is an organization that "advocates for the value, acceptance, and inclusion" for those with Down Syndrome. They hope that one day those with Down Syndrome will have better lives and become widely accepted member of the community. They have a "buddy walk" every year that "promotes inclusion between friends of every ability". This website also includes things like preferred language of people with down syndrome, inspiring stories, inclusion from an early age in community and education. This website is a great place to learn about Down Syndrome in general, and also learn about ways to create more inclusive environments. This society has been around since 1979!

        I have been involved in a lot of acts of inclusion in my school and in the community. I have been involved in Special Olympics and this gives children with all sorts of disabilities, including Down Syndrome to be able to participate in sports and work with people without disabilities. This program has been able to form lasting relationships in not only my life, but all of the other Buddy's lives as well. Also, my school was a huge supporter of our unified basketball team. This was a basketball team for those with disabilities and those without. We had certain time slots every so often, when our entire school would go watch a unified basketball game and cheer them on. These acts of inclusion are small steps to creating a well integrated and more aware society for those with disabilities, like Down Syndrome. You will never know how to make a situation better for a disabled person, without asking them directly. These websites and links were great way for me to connect to the article in different ways. I was able to research things from outside sources that directly related to the article by Kliewer. And I hope to talk about other peoples experiences with inclusion and Down Syndrome in class.


  1. Just realized we used the same Video haha. Great Post this week like always. I really like your pictures that you chose to put in your post. I also liked how you focused more on democracy in the classroom. Democracy in a classroom is a huge issue in our society and has to be stated. Keep it up!!

  2. Hey Sarah! I love this post. Its great to see how you were attracted to this article as is relates directly to your major. Besides that I love all of the pictures and the video that you added! Great job!

  3. Hey Sarah, great post this week! I loved all of the pictures you included they went along good with your post. I thought it was awesome how you connected this reading to experiences in your own life. It's so great how you are so involved with a ton of acts of inclusion in and out of school! Nice job!