Sunday, November 17, 2013

Schooling Children with Down Syndrome

When people in our society think of Down Syndrome they have this preconceived idea in their head and looks a little something like this:
People see the stereotypical look of people with Down Syndrome, but fail to see the unique individual behind the "flattened nose and face, upward slanting eyes and widely separated toes."
In Christopher Kliewer's article Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome, he challenges the preconception of what its like to be a child with Down Syndrome and the linear teaching model that goes along with it. No matter the level of academia of a child our education system promotes this linear approach, however it is extremely unsuccessful in the life of a child with Down Syndrome. The system does not celebrate a child's uniqueness and the different teaching opportunities that they can bring to the classroom and the students and teachers within it. This idea can be attributed to the inclusion of the community within the lives of a child with Down Syndrome. So in other words, "We have got to learn to get along as individuals and as citizens." This concept can easily be brought into the classroom by including children with special needs in to a "normal" classroom, which has proven to increase intellect.
In the example that was given within the text, a teacher named Shayne Robbins used a passion of Isaac's (a child with Down Syndrome) to use as a lesson and activity in class. Isaac loved the book Where the Wild Things Are, and they re-enacted the book with using their own script, back drops and costuming. (Not to mention they addressed gender roles when female students wanted to play the main character Max) With one simple activity Isaac could feel included with his school community and they learned important lessons too!
This sense of community can be established in four ways according to Christopher Kliewer:
      1. A belief in one's ability to think= rejecting the idea of "narrow interpretation of mathematical and linguistic characteristics when defining school citizenship [and] multiplicity of knowledge"
            *this can be done in the following ways*
                  a. logical mathematical thinking
                  b. linguistic capacities
                  c. spatial-representation intelligence
                  d. musical intelligence
                  e. kinesthetic intelligence
                  f. interpersonal intelligence
                  g. intrapersonal intelligence
      2. A belief in one's individuality= students not being grouped and categorized based in ability
      3. A belief in the reciprocity of the relationship="acknowledging students with Down syndrome as thoughtful, creative learners with personal identities that distinguish them from all the other people"
      4. Defining social place: a shared location=giving children the sense of community and family that the can have a connection too.
Essentially what this entire post/summarization of what Kliewer has to say is as such. In order for students with Down syndrome to do well, they need to feel included within the classroom as an individual, not the "mentally challenged" one of the class. This can easily be done by looking past the "symptoms" and looking at the individual, after all it is just an extra chromosome.



  1. Rebekah,

    I didn’t know about the hands and feel of a Down syndrome child-very interesting to know. I really like the statement that it’s just an extra chromosome-that’s it-that’s the only thing that makes them different. I too found the campaign that promotes how they are not different from everyone else. They have the same sorts of aspirations and dreams and lives.

    I like how you got straight to the meat of the article, which breaks down how we can treat people with Down syndrome as we do everyone else. This begins and ends with the acceptance that we are all individuals with our own way of learning, relating and communicating.

  2. Thank you for sharing your pictures and blog very interesting. I agree that there is only one chromosomes that makes the difference nothing else. There is nothing that should make use treat people with Down syndrome different.

  3. Hi Rebekah,
    I loved your post, lots of interesting facts I didn't know about. I also liked how you had multiple pictures because it made your blog a lot more enjoyable to read. Great post!

  4. Hey Rebekah,
    I really enjoyed reading your post and I like how you set it up! The pictures you chose were great and I also enjoyed how you broke down The 4 ways a community is established! I agree with what you said about inclusion! I feel like all students including those with disabilities should all feel comfortable and included within the classroom!
    Great Job!