04 SES 03 A, Attitudes of Different Groups II
Parallel Paper Session
Disability Studies in Education constitute a critical forum for social and educational advocacy and activism, which aims to employ ideas developed within the field of Disability Studies to facilitate Inclusive Education theory and practice (Connor, Gabel, Gallagher and Morton, 2008). Within the realm of Disability Studies in Education, efforts have focused on the establishment of inclusive education systems, which would provide equal opportunities to all students regardless of ability and diversity, as standard educational and social practice, by having disabled people’s understandings of disability as a baseline (Liasidou, 2008; Rioux and Pinto, 2010). Negative attitudes towards disability are usually the main obstacle to inclusive thinking and practice. False beliefs about disability are reproduced through educational systems that continue to raise barriers to inclusion (Connor et al., 2008; Oliver and Barnes, 2010; Phtiaka, 2006; Vlachou, 2004). Thus, it is essential to set the foundations for a better understanding of important issues around disability by valuing the disability culture. Within this context, disabled people’s experiences should be part of the curriculum (Connor et al., 2008; Corker and Shakespeare, 2002; Ware, 2002).
Apple (2000) argues that the dominant social rules, culture and attitudes are reflected in the curriculum, which is a highly political document. The representation of disability issues in the curriculum follows the social, political and cultural norms and often presents disabled people as pathetic persons who are miserable and in need of non-disabled people`s pity and charity. Curricula across cultures often underestimate the value and power of disabled people`s work, such as narratives, poems, paintings, sculptures etc. (Gabel, 2005). Actually, the empowerment of disabled people through making their personal stories public is one way of transforming the personal experience to political action. Thus, a change in attitudes towards disability may occur at the school level, and consequently the establishment of the inclusive society may eventually become a reality, since current students are future citizens (Corker and Shakespeare, 2002; Thomas, 2001; Symeonidou, 2009; Slee, 2001).
The Greek-Cypriot National Curriculum has traditionally excluded disabled people’s voice and the disability culture. This is explained by the local culture which has excluded and undervalued disabled people (Phtiaka, 2006; Symeonidou, 2009). The focus of this research was twofold: (a) to explore the possibility of enhancing the existing Greek Literature curriculum with material confronting issues of diversity and oppression, and (b) to examine whether alternative instruction, based on material produced by disabled people, can contribute in promoting inclusive thinking by challenging existing beliefs about the Other. The research was framed within the feminist and postmodernist/poststructuralist approaches to disability, since the personal experience, and the role of culture, history and discourse were taken into serious consideration (Corker and Shakespeare, 2002; Thomas, 2001).
Apple, M. (2000). Official Knowledge. New York: Routledge. Connor, D., Gabel, S., Gallagher, D. and Morton, M. (2008). Disability studies and inclusive education: implications for theory, research, and practice. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 12(5), 44-457. Corker, M. and Shakespeare, T. (2002). Mapping the terrain. In M. Corker and T. Shakespeare (Eds.), Disability/Postomodernity (p. 1-17). London: Continuum. Gabel, S. (2005) Disability studies in education: readings in theory and method. New York: Peter Lang. Liasidou, A. (2008). Critical discourse analysis and inclusive education policies: The power to exclude. Journal of Education Policy, 23(5), 483-500. Oliver, M. and Barnes, C. (2010). Disability studies, disabled people and the struggle for inclusion. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 31(5), 547-560. Phtiaka, H. (2006). From separation to integration: parental assessment of State intervention. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 16(3), 175-189. Rioux, M. H. and Pinto, P. C. (2010). A time for the universal right to education: back to basics. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 31(5), 621-642. Slee, R. (2001). Inclusion in practice: does practice make perfect? Educational Review, 53(2), 113-124. Symeonidou, S. (2009). Trapped in our past: The price we have to pay for our cultural disability inheritance. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 13(6), 565-579. Thomas, C. (2001). Feminism and disability: the theoretical and political significance of the person and the experiential. In L. Barton (Ed.), Disability, Politics and the Struggle for Change (p. 48-58). London: David Fulton Publishers. Vlachou, A. (2004). Education and inclusive policy-making implications for research and practice. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 8(1), 3-22. Ware, L. (2002). A Moral Conversation on Disability: Risking the Personal in Educational Contexts. Hypatia, 17(3), 143-172.
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