Citizenship In School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome
While reading this week’s essay, I immediately thought of Lisa Delpit. Specifically, teaching children the
Rules and Codes of Power that will ultimately help children achieve success in our society.
The over-all argument of this essay was to show the effectiveness of mixing students with one another in the classroom, disabilities or not. The reasoning behind this being that: In order for a child to be successful in our democratic society, they need to learn a specific dialogue, not only comprised of words but of many other things that can’t be as effectively learned if children are separated.
Claim 1: “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.”
Because: it legitimizes discrimination and devaluation on the basis of the dominant society’s preference in matters of ability, gender, ethnicity, and race…and endorse an elaborate process of sorting by perceived ability and behavior.” –Douglas Bilken
Comments: This quote also resonates with the essay we read last week about tracking. When a school sorts children into categories it will create competition and also as Dr. Bogad said, self-efficacy, that being good or bad. As Bilken explains it also legitimizes discrimination because tracking and sorting can be viewed as discriminatory towards those groups, this later teaches children that it’s okay to sort and judge other based on ability or gender…etc. When schools sort it robs children of certain “Codes and Powers” because it doesn’t allow students to create relationships with many different kinds of people that would expand their knowledge and allow for them to acquire a sense of community outside of school.
On determining Intellect-
“Those students who exhibit a canonical mid are credited with understanding, even when real understanding is limited or absent…Less happily, many who are capable of exhibiting significant understanding appear deficient, simply because they cannot readily traffic in commonly accepted coin of the educational realm.” –Howard Gardener
Comments: As Gardner says in a later paragraph, the curriculum in schools is rigid. Many kids and adults all learn and absorb knowledge in different ways. With that being said, schools still insist on presenting students with the same curriculum and the same tests which determine if they are intelligent or lacking thereof. This doesn’t seem fair at all especially if the child knows he/she is just as smart but isn’t given the chance to show it. Gardner proposes an additional five ways of determining intellectual capacity. One of those being: “kinesthetic intelligence—the capacity to use one’s body to communicate, solve problems, or to make things.” This can be seen in Issac, who every time his favorite book, Where the Wild Things Are he acted it out. Even though no one could understand what he was doing, he was displaying a certain level of intelligence and understanding that was different from his peers but in the same way, was intelligent.
Final Comments: In giving kids the same curriculum, the same tests, the same of everything that determines their intelligence creates a cycle that keeps the oppressed down and successful up in our society. But if we take the suggestions of the authors in this essay and of Delpit, we can teach children of different abilities the rules and codes of power to give every child a chance to succeed in our Democratic society.