Sunday, April 14, 2013

"Citzenship in School" Connections

Citizenship In School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome
Christopher Kliewer

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.


  1. Hey Nicole I agree that Delpit can be related to this article. Everything Kliewer was saying was about the rules and codes of power. Just because those with down syndrome have a disability does not mean that they can't do what a child without a disability does. Every case is different and I think it is very important to allow these students the opportunities to succeed.

  2. I always love reading your posts!! And I totally agree with you on how you could relate this to Delput and the "codes and powers." We should take the advice from these authors and be teaching children them so they have the ability to succeed in out society.

  3. I also thought about Delpit when I read the text. I really liked what you put about how society suffers when schools act as sorting machines and how it legitimizes discrimination. I thought that that was a really good point.

  4. Nicole, great connections to Delpit and our recent class discussion. You organize your blog well so the examples are clear and address the topics. Educators must be aware that children in the same age group develop different, especially intellectually. Yet they still assign these curriculums that require certain numbers!

  5. Great post girl! I thought of Delpit too when I read the article. You made some great connections. :)