Sunday, April 10, 2016


Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome
By: Christopher Kliewer


Once I got a few pages into this reading, I really enjoyed it. It has only been since this semester that I have given much thought to special education. Being in an inclusive classroom for service learning has even made me consider wanting to teach special education. I think the issues that Kliewer talks about are very important. Not all people with Down syndrome are the same, just like how not all people without disabilities are the same. Some students would very well benefit from being in a general education classroom rather than being secluded in a special education classroom. They would learn so much more and be at their greatest potential.

I thought all of the examples/stories that Kliewer used really showed how individuals with disabilities can succeed without being thought of as less than others. Specifically, the story of Christine switching to general education classes at a public high school was very inspiring. When she first started at the school, she brought with her so many negative labels about what she couldn’t do. By the time even just one year was over, she had improved in every category. If students with disabilities were given the chances and opportunities to succeed, then they would. In my service learning classroom there are 7 students with IEPs. I have been in the classroom now for over seven weeks, and in that short period of time I have seen so much growth in all of those students. One girl is on her way to taking steps without her walker, and another is counting to 12 when his IEP goal is only to count to 8 by June. Seeing these students succeed really emphasizes for me why I want to be a teacher.

The main focus of this chapter was citizenship in schools. I thought Kliewer definitely brought his point across using the various stories. No one deserves to be excluded from something, especially from an education. Kliewer said, “The movement to merge the education of children with and without disabilities is based on the belief that to enter the dialogue of citizenship does not require spoken, or indeed outspoken, language. Rather, communication is built on one’s ability to listen deeply to others” (Page 73). I think this quote is a good representation of Kliewer’s argument.

This piece definitely relates to August’s idea of safe spaces. Students with disabilities need to feel like they are accepted and that they belong. One of the students that Kliewer talked about, John, moved from one city in California to another where he was more accepted. John’s sibling said, “It’s safe – what he calls a ‘safe space’. Like a lot of people in Mendocino, he’s accepted for what he is, not what he isn’t. And he can concentrate on what he can do, instead of being shown or being told what he can’t do” (Page 86). John was able to succeed in a place where he felt he belonged, in a place where he was safe.

Point to Share:

I think it’s important for people to focus on strengths rather than the things someone can’t do. Just because someone has been labeled with a disability, doesn’t mean they can’t do anything. I liked a quote from the girl Christine that Kliewer talks about, “I have Down syndrome, but I am not handicapped” (page 93).


  1. Loved your point to share! It is important to focus on strengths rather than disabilities. I also liked that quote too!

  2. I like how you mentioned its better to focus on strengths rather than weaknesses but its sucks that all anyone focuses on is what you can't do or what is different rather than what you can do and what makes you unique in your own way! Awesome as per usual

  3. I agree with Ariana I liked how you talked about focusing on strengths over disabilities because everybody is different! I also liked the quote you used in your last picture. Good job!

  4. Carlene, I also hadn't given special education much thought until this semester. Since my service learning in an inclusion classroom and SPED 300. But now that I have more knowledge about special ed, inclusion, and disabilities I really enjoyed Kliewer's article. The picture you included is absolutely perfect! It is so important to look beyond someones disability and look at all of their ABILITIES.

  5. I agree you should focus on the strengths over the disabilities! The quote at the end stood out to me while reading the article as well, the pictures you included show how you shouldn't look past someone based on how they look, you should look at their abilities. Great post!

  6. Carlene really love the picture of the little girl! It is true instead of downing students because of their disabilities we should embrace it and help them grow. Always look at the child's ability then their disabilities.