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Friday, April 27, 2012

From Disability to Possibility

I recently read the book From Disability to Possibility: The Power of Inclusive Classrooms by Patrick Schwarz.

It's a short book, less than 100 pages, so it was a quick and easy read. Yet more importantly it was a powerful book to read.

This book is ideally, and mostly, for educators (general and special), administrators, paraeducators and self-advocates. Parents of children with special needs would also get a wealth of information from this book as well.

It was filled with real-life stories of students with varying levels of disabilities and their journey to inclusive classrooms ... ie... being educated with their same-age/grade peers in the general education classrooms working on the same general education curriculum.

Mr Schwarz goes through the process of where the student was placed, labels given, issues the team was dealing with, and then shows solutions and examples on how they were able to make it work for that student to be in an inclusive classroom environment.

He engages the reader by having them think beyond what they know, stop seeing the label on the student, to stretch the mind and see the possibilities that exist for every student.

Students with disabilities are overwhelmingly unemployed and jobless after high school. He challenges schools to do a better job and focus on a new model - varied teaching and learning styles, transforming disability into possibility.

His examples of students showcases specific kinds of teaching, classroom practices, and support approaches to make inclusive classrooms successful.

I especially liked several of the points he makes in this book:
- special education is a service, not a place, and the purpose of the service is to support learners in successfully achieving a general education
- a general education shouldn't need to be earned
- inclusion may not be easier, but it's better
- get rid of labels
- make education real
- disability is normal

"America has created a system whereby learners with special education needs are, in many cases, identified, tested, labeled, and segregated before they ever have a chance to function in a general education environment. This practice violates the concept of least restrictive environment and misinterprets what continuum of services means."

I highly recommend this book for all educators, and parents, of children with special needs.

"Disability is an opportunity to search other hidden talents you have." Sam Sullivan, Mayor of Vancouver, BC.

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1 comment:

Shona Bolden said...

I can't wait to read it. Thanks for the suggestion. I so agree with the quote you listed. My daughter is only 8 months old so we have a while before we reach this path. But I have often wondered why the prejudice is so strong and I believe it began in many schools with segregation of students with special needs.

Thanks again!