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Education Administrators Associates
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WHO WE ARE
Education Administrators Associates was initiated by Dr. John Brownridge, an educator and school principal with extensive knowledge and expertise in the field of Education, and experience in both North America and the United Kingdom. EAA's objective is to offer resource, assistance, and consultation to professional educators in the English-speaking world. 

A variety of issues of interest and concern to educators will be presented and considered in this blog on a weekly basis. All educators, whether teachers, administrators or consultants, are invited to comment on the Contacts Page.
 
None of us can be experts in every field. Yet, as teachers we are expected to be knowledgeable on a whole range of topics, especially those that relate directly or indirectly to education. The parents of our students frequently have questions and concerns about curriculum, special programs, and new innovations they have heard about through news media. Our colleagues, friends and acquaintances may seek explanations and definitions. It is in our own interest to have a cursory knowledge of issues outside our areas of expertise, and to be capable of providing some insight into a variety of educational topics.

This weekly blog will explore many educational topics. Please check in on a regular basis, and do feel free to submit your comments and questions on the Contacts Page. As teachers, we have a wealth of experience to share.

John Brownridge

This Week

 Disability Studies for Educators

As the expectations of formal education in North America and Europe continue to develop and advance, professional educators are faced with an ever-increasing challenge in their attempts to reach society’s education objectives. Learning and intellectual disabilities have been faced and accepted by schools during most of the 20th century and special programs have been developed to assist students in need. In more recent times, however, the focus has been on physical disability. Universities have been forced to develop a field of studies to examine the situation of physically disabled persons in society today and the way society responds to certain types of difference. This area of research and investigation falls under the general heading of Disability Studies (DS).

Disability Studies in the United States involve a wide range of professions that are concerned with disabilities and disabled people. As an interdisciplinary field of study and research it focuses on the contributions, experiences, history and culture of the disabled and seeks to examine and change the way society defines disability and responds to it. In 1973, the Society for Disability Studies, a professional and international organization of academics, issued official guidelines for any program operating under the title of Disability Studies. Any such program is expected to meet certain criteria.

The most basic requirement for DS is that it must engage subject matter from a variety of disciplines, because all disciplines, whether they be concerned with science, humanities or social studies, are touched by disability. Students, teachers, researchers, and practitioners must be allowed to approach the curriculum from a variety of perspectives.

A major focus of DS should be to challenge society’s view of disability as simply an individual disorder to be treated by medical intervention and rehabilitation. Rather, disability should be seen as a societal concern involving social, political, and economic factors and requiring both personal and collective response. Impairment and illness need to be de-stigmatized, and a program of disability studies can help to achieve this by examining the relation between medical practice and the stigmatization of disability.

Attitudes towards disability are not consistent throughout the western world and proponents of DS stress the advantages of studying disability from an international perspective. Programs of disability studies should centre on the widest possible context and include the literature and history of other cultures and the ideas and attitudes of other societies. Also, the part played by disabled students and faculty, should be emphasized. Not only should the disabled be actively involved in DS but they should be encouraged to hold positions of leadership and contribute their ideas about future directions for this field of study.

The general priorities and expectations of DS are widely accepted by the disabled, by academics, and by society at large. It is not without criticism, however, and some of these criticisms appear to be well founded. Some educators have suggested, for example, that impairment should not be separated from disability. The social model propounded by DS guidelines seems to ignore the fact that impairment can often cause severe limitations on the abilities of those affected and this needs to be recognized. It is also noted that disability studies have not engaged with multiple forms of oppression such as racism, sexism, and ageism, though there are signs that this relatively new discipline is about to do so. The field of DS is an important one and there is every reason to expect that it will continue to develop and improve.


 
John Brownridge

Next Week

Bilingual Education in the USA