You must explore a sociocultural manifestation of ableism.

 

This project is designed to require you to engage in raising your own critical consciousness about the ableism in our society and schools (and in ourselves), and to invite others to join you in raising their critical consciousness (conscientization) for the purposes of getting involved to act toward dismantling oppressive systems, barriers, and attitudes (praxis). You will do this by:

  1. exploring and critically analyzing assumptions and institutional practices that (wittingly or unwittingly) marginalize individuals with disabilities. What do you need to learn more about in order raise your own critical awareness of ableist inequities? Of Disability culture and/or activism? What assumptions do you need to more critically examine? Select a venue or facet of society/culture that you’d benefit from thinking/learning more about, through the lens of thinking about ableism and/or cultural awareness of Disabled experience. Your focus should be on discourses and practices that have an impact on the lived experiences of disabled individuals, and that explicitly explore sociocultural dimensions of that experience such as institutionalized ableism, exclusion, segregation, discrimination, and stigma (conscientization), or disability culture, arts, activism, and advocacy, AND
  2. proposing an agenda for social action that can/will disrupt (for you and your preservice-teacher-peers) some of these assumptions and institutional practices in a manner that might foster the acceptance and valuing of disabled people as full members of society, and/or that enables their full and valued participation in schools and in society (praxis). What can you (and your peers) DO to continue to raise your own awareness about these issues, and to potentially disrupt the structures of ableist inequities?

You might consider critically evaluating public spaces for barriers to access, meeting with disability rights activists to attempt to understand the activists’ agenda(s) with consideration of how to act as an ally, critically analyzing examples of acts of disability discrimination and violence in the current news and popular media, etc. The goal is to be creative in developing your own critical consciousness about significant examples of ableism in schools and in society.

Questions to consider:

  • What (if any) awareness did you have about this issue before embarking upon this project?
  • Why is it a problem?
  • How did this come to be the way it is? Who benefits (& who does not) from a lack of critical societal consciousness on this issue?
  • What is the cultural context that enabled this? How is this state of affairs reproduced (e.g., are there policies in place that foster it? Is there dysconsciousness or misinformation in education or other cultural contexts that fosters continued ignorance and lack of critical awareness?)?
  • What might your role be (and that of your peers) in working in alliance with disabled communities to disrupt ableism in both individual belief systems as well as institutionalized practices?

Criteria:

  • You must explore a sociocultural manifestation of ableism, disability oppression, or disability culture or activism.
  • You must engage with the perspective(s) and agenda(s) of disabled people, and make explicit how you sought and incorporated these perspectives and sources of information. Please remember that there is no such thing as “the disabled perspective,” any more than there is such a thing as a singular perspective aligned with one’s gender identity, racial identity, etc.. Disability communities are diverse and heterogeneous, as all other communities are.
  • You must take a stance of active learner (not active teacher), critical reflector (not accepting or reproducing dominant “truths” without question), and ally (not expert)

Presentations should:

  • Provide a complex and thorough overview of the topic for your classmates. This is your process of conscientization (critical consciousness-raising).
    • Include in that overview a summary of all the varied efforts that each of you took to educate yourselves and each other over the course of working on the project together (e.g., these are the people/groups we began following on social media, these are the academic articles we all read, these are the workshops/webinars/meetings we attended & participated in, these are the places we went, these are the people we talked to, etc.). Also be explicit about the multiple ways that you routinely shared your individual learning with one another throughout the course of the group project.
    • Make clear the ways in which you sought to (and hopefully did!) actively set out to learn about the perspectives and agendas and experiences of disabled people (plural).
    • Frame that overview in a “here’s what we learned about this topic/issue that we didn’t know before; maybe you didn’t know this, either.” Take a learner, not an expert, stance. You are sharing with your peers your own learning process and hopefully interesting them in learning more about this issue/topic themselves. Curiosity is a valuable inducement to learning J
  • Provide for your peers resources and ideas that can enable them to engage in their own conscientization around this issue. This is your praxis (action). Please focus your resources & ideas on these two areas:
    • Provide peers with informational resources that people can access (including organizations to join; social media accounts to follow; webpages, books, articles, or films to check out; etc.) that they can access in order to build/raise their own critical consciousness on this issue.
    • Provide peers with pedagogical ideas for ways that knowing about and critically understanding this issue can/should inform your pedagogy as a teacher, and/or your relationship with students, their families, and their communities. This is the “so what”? What difference does it make if teachers better understand these issues? How might your teaching disrupt some of the inequities, or amplify some of the political and artistic endeavors you’ve explored?

You must explore a sociocultural manifestation of ableism.

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