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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Special Stuff

My co-editor, Steve Brown, gets pretty riled up when anyone uses the word "special." It doesn't matter that the word "special" has been around far longer than "special education" or the media's love of "special features" about "special people." Don't you dare propose a "special forum" or talk about how you have "special feelings" or order the "weekly special." Unfortunately, for people with disabilities, special things have lost their meaning because of over-use by the special people specialists. A couple of years ago we published a, yes, special forum on, yes, Special Education Meets Disability Studies. To view the issue click here . Check out the two articles by Johnson and Kellner in another issue as well. These are preliminary explorations of how disability studies might inform special education research and practice. Since the issue was published, I 've done a lot more scholarly reading in this area and am convinced that disability studies scholars have much to contribute to improving educational practices for kids with disabilities. What we need now is to conduct more empirical research about how to turn disability studies theory into classroom practice.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Yes, and I still don't like the word "special" when applied in the context of disability. We could discuss the history of the word "special" and what it does or doesn't mean in a variety of settings, but my basic problem with it in the context of disability is that if one substitutes the word "segregated" for "special" in these contexts, it usually means the same thing-- for example, Very Special Arts, which is now VSA arts, or Special Education, which now goes under a variety of labels, one of which is inclusive education. Other ways of looking at this are "special" seats on buses, or special toilets in public bathrooms, or even, to put it in a non-disability context, special meals on an airplane. When "special" is applied to disability it usually, for people with disabilities, means watch out, something is about to be done to or for us, but not necessarily with us.