Tag Archives: learning

Recommended Reading for October 19, 2010

Corina Becker at No Stereotypes Here: Real Communication Shutdown

I was recently asked by a person on Twitter to participate, and I responded that there wasn’t much of a point, since I am Autistic, and do not require to learn about difficulties that I myself face in communicating.

kaz at Kaz’s Scribblings (DW): trials and tribulations — learning foreign languages with speech disorders

in my forays into foreign languages, I have discovered that if I speak slowly and focus on pronunciation I automatically slip into stronger therapy. And I do mean automatically. And, like, I can’t even think “okay, I’m going to talk normally now”, I actually have to intentionally try and modify various sounds to be untherapylike. . .

Katherine Creag at My Fox NY: Woman Couldn’t Buy Inhaler During Asthma Attack

“I had exactly a twenty-dollar bill. It came to twenty-one and change,” Jack Brown said. “I offered him my cell phone, my wallet. I said I live right around the corner. I come in here all the time.”

He was told the inhaler with tax would cost just over $21. He was short a dollar and change.

staticnonsense at Some Assembly Required: Intersections of Disability and Transgenderism

Trans people get othered a lot. We’re pushed off as crazy, disordered, for challenging the social norms of gender and sex. Either by choice in trying to deconstruct this ancient structure, or simply by existing. Throughout history we’ve been institutionalized or “fixed” (or tried to be) simply for existing as ourselves in a world that focuses so strongly on the cissexist concept of penis = man = masculine and vagina = woman = feminine. Even now the disconnect of the body and one’s self identity is seen as a disorder, one that mu

Chally at Feministe: Unreality and the politics of experience

And it’s a bizarre experience because the person in the best position to speak about their own experiences and emotions is the person who has them. And, personally, I find the desire to go over horrible experiences with a fine tooth comb, tease them out, decide – retrospectively, calmly, objectively – on an appropriate response, (an appropriate reaction is whatever I judge to be appropriate, thank you very much) to add a whole new sickening layer to what I experienced. And then there are those demands for more details and irrelevant details and painful details, because whoever is “listening” thinks they get to decide what’s important.

If you’re on Delicious, feel free to tag entries ‘disfem’ or ‘disfeminists,’ or ‘for:feminists’ to bring them to our attention! Link recommendations can also be emailed to recreading at disabledfeminists dot com. Please note if you would like to be credited, and under what name/site.

Education and Communication: Online Schools in Oregon Under Threat

I recently heard an interesting report on Jefferson Public Radio (JPR), the radio station I listen to, about the Oregon Virtual Academy (OVA), an online public school in Oregon. Oregon legislators are apparently concerned about the regulation of online schools and there’s a proposal to place a two year freeze on making new online schools and expanding enrollment in Senate Bill 767. A lot of the reporting on this issue I’ve encountered has focused on parents being angry about not being allowed to choose which schools to send their children to.

But the JPR report brought up a really interesting point, and one which I would like to see Oregon media discussing more closely. The reporter visited the home of an Oregon student with disabilities to talk to her about her experiences with OVA. She has a learning disability, and in particular has trouble with short term memory. Her mother talked about the various public and private schools that her daughter was placed in, about struggling with “basic” homework which her daughter didn’t remember the next day, and the student talked about her frustrations with conventional education. She became physically ill due to stress from school.

When she started going to OVA and did schoolwork at her own pace, however, the student experienced rapid improvement. She went from lagging behind her peers on assessment tests1 to testing comparably to them, her anxiety was greatly reduced, and her physical symptoms of stress and anxiety resolved.

Clearly, going to school online was a better solution for this student with disabilities. Being able to set her schedule and to take time to go in-depth on some things while moving more quickly on material she was confident about allowed her to improve academically. And there are lots of students who may be in this position. Some students with disabilities don’t learn as well in conventional education environments; why not provide them with an opportunity to learn online? Some students live in really remote areas, and spend a lot of time traveling to get to school 2. Some schools aren’t accessible (even though they should be). There are all kinds of reasons why online education should be an option for students who want it.

And, of course, there’s an argument to be made for enrichment. Oregon is a financially struggling state, and many of its schools cannot afford to offer things like a wide range of language classes, advanced placement classes, and interesting electives for students. For students who want these things, including disabled students, the education system is limiting. Online education, however, can incorporate coursework and teachers from all over the world. Students have more opportunities than they do in physical classrooms, especially if they live in low-income areas where schools are just not getting the funding they need to provide an adequate education, let alone one which offers advanced options or one which serves students with disabilities.

I understand the concerns of Oregon’s legislature. Regulation is important, and it’s important to make sure that students are getting access to educations which meet basic standards. But there’s a kneejerk response against online schooling, homeschooling, and unschooling which I really don’t like, not least because it does a disservice to people with disabilities who cannot learn in conventional school environments. It all gets back to the overall social attitude which privileges able bodies and methods of communication over all, which argues that there’s a “healthy” and “right” way to be and that everyone else just needs to be “fixed” (or hidden), not accommodated.

We need to be addressing the fact that people have different learning and education styles, that school is not one size fits all, and that an important aspect of regulation should include making sure that all students are provided with an opportunity to learn in a way which works for them. To deprive Oregon students of online education seems a great shame to me; surely there has to be a better way to study this and to improve the approach to regulation than freezing online schooling for two years.

  1. I think that assessment tests are extremely flawed, for all kinds of reasons which I’m sure that many of you are familiar with. However, they are used as a common metric, and they were referenced in this report, which is why I’m including the fact that her test scores improved.
  2. When I was in high school, students traveled from places like Cloverdale and Point Arena, two hours away from Mendocino, to get to school. While schools were locally available, they couldn’t attend because the curricula didn’t meet their needs and due to concerns like violence; you don’t want to be gay at Point Arena High, for example.