“Citizenship in School: Conceptualizing Down Syndrome” by Christopher Kliewer argues that all children no matter their disability, such as Down syndrome, should be included with typical children in an inclusive classroom setting. This is a critical part in development for any student. Schools need to recognize that ALL students can learn if their environment supports ALL students. “School citizenship requires that students not be categorized and separated based on presumed defect. The phenomenon of categorization at the expense of individual value has been described as a “disability spread” in which we [schools] extrapolate the characteristics we associate with the notion of disability…” (85). Any school should allow difference, server or non-severe disabilities within the classroom, with support from other adults. "The idea is that tolerance will grow as students gain appreciation for difference" (August 85).
Students with disabilities, even Down syndrome, should be integrated in all classroom situations. I remember having a student with disabilities who entered into our school for the first time only knowing school as being in one class all day. This student was never integrated in any school classroom except for classes which were not academic. “Vygotsky found that the culture of segregation surrounding people with disabilities actually teaches underdevelopment of thinking thought the isolation of children from social valued opportunities” (83). This is dangerous because students who are subjected by these behaviors-- learn these behaviors. The student who entered my classroom for the first time never knew how to interact with students on a social level and therefore was deprived from social interaction of typical children. The student with disabilities was socially involved with students who were considered to have behavior disorders. This student with disabilities learned the behaviors of other students and was then labeled with behavior problems.
The parent of the student was concerned because her child was labeled as a student who could not function in a mainstream classroom. When the student came to our school, he was fully integrated in the mainstream classroom and learned that not all students has behavior issues. The behavior improved and social skills improved. This reminded me of Christine’s story. “Christine’s skills improved… she was out in the community, Christine’s network broadened…” (92). Bringing students into mainstream classroom helps the student with disabilities become a part of a community. This will only enhance the learning levels, because those student who may be deprived of learning from students of all levels, will then have the opportunity to connect and learn with ALL students.