Abstract

In schooling structures concerned with a mind/body divide, various intelligences and voices are pathologized. There is a plethora of knowledge that tells a powerful fiction about how we are unable to learn. Unfortunately, this fairy-tale is not experienced as fiction but as truth. Sometimes I slip between the two, where ghostly forms thrive, where we can begin work to recognize the potential in dyslexic ways of knowing (Gordon 1997, p. 38). It is only after we begin to recognize these hauntings that we can begin to imagine how the category of learning disability is a political one. Ultimately, I hope to make visible the narrowness in the ideal academic body, and open up new potentials for sensual (sense-making) embodied academic labor.

This paper takes you through a tumultuous journey, following distraction after distraction, of moments of my travels in the form of a ghost traversing the fissures between the smart student and the stupid, touching those spaces between. There have been many lessons that left lesions which have not been properly (ad)dressed and need to be recognized with some tender, loving, care so that I/we can fearlessly engage with the ghost from school.

This journey is about imagining a new form of reality. We need to armor ourselves with the history of our resistance and the image of another reality that will allow us to dream of open doors, open fields (Titchkosky, 2007, 2001; Aspis, 1997). I hope that my particular tales can open us up to new stories, and that this patchwork gives us layers to work with, between the particular and the universal, so that we may learn more about "What it is about school or smartness that necessitated the LD label in the first place; how could it happen?"

Various discourses have defined me as learning disabled because I do not memorize facts, learn, write, read, or sound like most good, normal students. The plethora of knowledge constructed about my body has told a powerful fairy tale of how I. am. UNable. to learn. This powerful fiction has not been experienced as fiction, but as truth (Gordon, 1997, p. 38). I could give you the science of my problems. Instead, I will offer a story, in it's anti-linear, sometimes gleefully stumbling, pushin' against the bounds of normalizing spelling and grammar-in-a-box — It'd be a piece of pie to disregard this as unintelligible, therefore unintelligent.1 But hopefully, you will get sucked in anyway. This makes for many haunting, uncanny experiences, when fiction intrudes into our truths and reminds us of the space for lively interaction between the psyche and the social (so that I can move out from underneath these labels), that there are spaces between "I am" and "learning disabled" (Gordon, 1997, p. 49).2

There is a space to know how I do read, and how I do learn. These constructions do not just come out of my dyslexic body, but to know this requires that we pay attention to what has not been seen, but remains powerfully real (Gordon, 1997, p. 42). The construction of impairment must be contested. The medical industry has a long history of working to delegitimize acts of resistance by pathologizing the resistors and naturalizing them as broken so that the sanctity of the dominant ideologies and ways of knowing remain in a secure location in various hierarchies.3

When we pay attention to how I do read and how I do learn, then the previous crisis, (how it is that I am not learning) is thrown into crisis. The crisis is no longer about locating or fixing impairments. The new crisis becomes the potential destruction of the boundaries between the mind and body, abled and disabled, smart and stupid, truth and fiction, and I can make my way, entering in as a subject and transforming as a ghost (Gordon, 1997, p. 43).

Stolen, Fragmented, Dismantled Bodies

Conversations with Some of My Selves

When i was in elementary school, i can't remember if I was in special ed or not, i would be crying in frustration (nothing made me cry more than frustration). I remember telling my mom that "I wish I never knew."

I have many i's, and i is not always proper, nor consistent.

Once, she told me, "But dene, if we didn't know that you're dyslexic, then we wouldn't be able to get the help you need."

And so there are many dene's.

She was right, but it did not have to be like that. I did not want to know the one thing that would help me get some of my educational rights, and since realized that i never want to live without.

"I wished I never knew." < — what does that mean?

I wished i never knew what?

Once i wrote: "I thought that if i didn't know, then i couldn't blame my failures on my body, I could blame them on my (independent/transcendental) selves and my lack of effort. I was afraid that I would use my body as an excuse to retreat, as a way out of working so hard.

Now i am noticing: It was as if i didn't want to "use my dyslexia as a crutch" (as have accused me of) when i demanded accommodations.4 There's much we can say about the construction of our bodies as objects, which we inappropriately rely on.

To say that i was afraid that "i would use my body as an excuse to retreat" is to say that I can separate my mind from my body. Furthermore, i was putting into practice a "mind over body" philosophy by implying that my body could not be a resource for learning and knowing; it was only something that could hold me back, and if I wasn't good enough, if I wanted to be lazy, I could let it slow me down. I did not want to admit my material limitations in doing school because i did not want to submit myself to a self-fulfilling process of diagnosed and proscribed failure. But this transcendental "I" had an idea how to get out of this one — Liberal Hopefulness.5

"I don't think I ever used my body as an excuse, instead it became something to conquer and mutilate, so that I could succeed like those other selves that don't even have to think about their bodies. I wanted so much to know that I was accomplished, not because of the special treatment that my body requires, but because it was something (the transcendental, universal, capitalized) I did.

So in resisting the label, i became very well disciplined at performing the "good student," and my liberal hopefulness propelled this. My love of learning could never be enough to manage this system, and so I had to regulate and control—mutilate my body with sleeplessness, starvation, and speed. No matter what was going on in my body, I just needed to read ten more pages. Those spelling drills never taught me to spell, they were drilling me on my stupid, nonsensical ways, and these drills were key in the formation of my docile body (Tremain, 2006; Charlton, 2006).

"For me, if i never knew, then I could divorce my selves from my body; my failure and accomplishments could only come from my selves. I did not want an identity that had anything to do with my body. I didn't want to know, but i did.

At the same time that my body has been something to conquer, i wanted and hoped to locate my failure in some independent disembodied identity. Now, I know that my achievement and success is dependent on more than i can name right now.—But also.

"I didn't want to know, but i did" and still do know that

my body

was stolen from me

and i did it

(Sobchak, 1999; Clare, 2008).

"I wish i never knew, but i did"

The liberal bootstraps won't work on these strappy sandals.

There's no way I could conform

to the shape of the normative, good student

My body loves keeping opposites confusing

with my attention caught in the spaces between

right & left subject & object

smart & stupid

mind & body

Bodies Our Theories Need

This fragmentation of selves takes place when our brains are reified and we live in a system of binaries. Some of us strive to discipline ourselves so we can try to keep up with other students, all the while we work beside all the structures set up against us. Our bodies become instruments, like crutches for broken brains that we conquer and discipline.

Power does not only operate within the state and the economy, but instead, as Foucault argues, the mechanics of power operate locally and only then become economically and politically useful (1977). These mechanics evolve, organize, and put into circulation apparatuses of knowledge that are rarely visible in the laws or the economy. Sleeter's (1987) article offers us much to understand about how the category of learning disability has been politically useful tool for white, middle-class parents to separate and segregate their children from low income, racially marginalized students. While there is much to gain from Sleeter's historical account of the ways race and disability intersect, we are left without an understanding of how power operates locally, or what knowledges have been useful in wielding this powerful tool of separation, or what knowledges come out of embodied resistance to these kinds of regimes. I hope to do some of this while I keep the knots of race and disability in my hands.

While I do find Sleeter's historical account important, I feel quite removed from it. It is not that I don't find the analysis compelling, but it leaves us without the experience of disabled people who have been labeled. The label, according to Sleeter, was useful for white parents in maintaining white cultural integrity, locating the failure and problem in the physical body of a child, and providing hope for a cure (1987, p. 226-227) for the kid who has overcome or compensated for their broken bodies. This is also particularly useful in maintaining the school structures that defined, reified, and refined what counts as educated. It provided the skills that many students need to discipline themselves, and it provided an industry of segregation and imperialism (Charlton, 2006; Tremain, 2006; Sleeter, 1987). I must contend that this has been a devastating endeavor for all students and teachers who are pressured to limit themselves, to standardize our selves and one another, all in the name of a rigorous education. This is what the experience of the LD label has to teach us.

Historical, social constructionist analysis of LD has not been able to recognize material embodied difference, nor has it been able to problematize impairment. Our analysis needs to be able to consider alternative ways impairment is constructed (Chappell, 1997, Goodley, 2001). Regardless of parents' intentions, the category of LD has been used to mark particular bodies as deviant bodies, to normalize our bodies, and steal our bodies from us. All the while, enforcing a self-disciplining imperialistic relationship to our bodies. Our theories need our bodies, but not like this.

New Coloring to Reality

But it is precisely the experience of being haunted in the "world of common reality," the unexpected arrival of ghosts or wolves or errie photographs, that troubles or even ruins our ability to distinguish reality and fiction, magic and science, savage and civilized, self and other, and in those ways gives to reality a different coloring (Gordon, 1997, p. 53).

What they (and often times we) do not know is that the only possibility we have is to learn: not memorize, not cut corners. I have to know my stuff well enough to take it apart, look at its pieces and reassemble. This is my process of appropriating knowledge and making it my own. In doing so, I'm doing work to create something new as I incorporate it into the old and begin to embody it.6

I see ideas taking the shapes of webs, marble sculptures, jigsaw puzzles, and Rubik's Cubes that are always evolving in their own contexts.

In recognizing the historical construction of sight as a source of knowledge, I must explain (Brennan, 2004; Sobchak, 1999).7 When I say, "I see ideas…" I do not mean to imply that "My eye sees ideas" because it is not that my eyeballs are seeing, nor do I understand this conception of sight to be ontologically opposed to blindness. I have a friend who is blind, and when she would go for a walk, sometimes she would talk about how beautiful the day was. There are many things, including a beautiful day, that excites senses that are not doing the sensing.8

When I learn something that challenges my current conception of things, there is a slight shift in the environment that begs me to turn the Rubik's Cube over, to make adjustments elsewhere, or a new shape will become present in the marble which contains clues to understanding the implications of these environmental shifts that go beyond the present environment.9 My spider webs have just been disrupted by a passer by, and rebuilding must take place. I prefer to learn the details, the particulars, the small things about someone's argument, the way words and ideas ignite my senses and have text-ure which help me to find the fissures, the points of disconnect, and the unexpected points of connection. I rarely move in straight lines, always distracted.

Lessons in Reading

When I read, I never start from the first word and travel through to the end of the paragraph, and oftentimes even the end of the sentence. Rather, I'll read in the shape of a spiral. Sometimes I'll read the first half of the sentence three times before I get to the end of it, and then I start back two sentences before the one I had just completed. I do this because there are many random spellings that make words become incomprehensible. It is as if I'm forever completing a fill in the blank vocabulary quiz, except I don't have a word bank on hand. Context clues of all kinds become an essential component to reading. In reading, I'm always stopping to tend to my webs, my puzzles, my Rubik's Cubes.

There are countless times when I have broken down in tears because I realize that this reading is taking me far longer than the labor-time socially necessary for its production (Marx, 1978, p. 306), and as hard as I push my fingers to know this text-ure, I fear that I do not Know it, as I should. Sometimes I push so hard that my blood will act as a kind of lubricant, when my playfulness has become rowdy, but has not yet turned into frustrated aggression, my fingers become more sensitive to the contents, and the cuts are innocent enough that it does not distract me from my reading games.

Other times, the fiction of the socially average timeline for completion of this task comes in between me and my text. I take up the painful fiction that I should Know about, or at least be able to learn something from this author I have been waiting to read if I'm really not learning disabled. In these particular moments of interaction, some texts, by their particular historical material effect of their form more than their content, become made of a landscape of cactus needles or glass edges that catch my skin, tear it more, and force me to pull away. Rather than taking it slowly and gently, rather than listening to the pain in my finger-tips, I push harder. Sometimes I try and find those sharp edges and I embark on an impulsive, well-disciplined, imperialistic trip, to find the facts which prove that I am not disabled. This is when this masochism becomes dangerous; this is when the powerful fictions threaten to become my truths. In this moment, I am haunted, but this is also the moment when "the real is thrown into crisis" because this experience, in my ghostly form, insists on being real (Gordon, 1997, p. 43). The potential playfulness in this learning experience is anything but learning disabled. The real crisis is not my material inability to learn, but the narrowness in which we consider learning as a rational process of accumulating facts. Knowing this, I have ways to recognize my ghostly body and to begin my hauntings.

Theories Our Bodies Need

All of us must contend with the ways we (Are you with me?) have all been drilled out of our particular cultural and material embodiment, out of our ways of learning and knowing, for the sake of academic rigor. We must contend with the ways various politically useful labels influence how others interpret our ways of interacting, or how we are interpellated or hailed by these labels (Althusser, 1989). We need new ways of talking about the experience of learning disabilities, new definitions, new experiences that can be shared collectively and proudly (Smith, 2006, 2008). As much as we've been through, as much as we've had to sweat, and bleed, and cry over school, we have something very real to defend.

There are many i's and so there are many we's. If you feel that this is vague, than maybe this or that we is not for you.

We have the power to revolutionize schools, because our bodies have been the instrument or the center, where we enact and embody learning in beautiful, in complex, artful, tactile, and sensual ways. We know what a normative education feels like because we have always had to translate out of those ways of learning, in order to create our own. We know how essential this kind of creation is, how this passion can create a powerful river, and how it is that our creations have been threatened by rigorous standards. School can be physically and emotionally terrorizing — this is not because our bodies are broken, it is because our bodies have been used as ammunition against other bodies (Williams, 1997).

I would like to propose that we consider impairment a biological myth, because as de Beauvoir argues, "It is not upon physiology that values can be based; rather, the facts of biology take on the values that the existent bestows upon them" (quoted by Alcoff 2006, p. 3). This is somewhat different from the social model of disability, which assumes impairment is a given, and even defining fact of disability. This is not to deny any material reality, but to say that the construction of impairment must specifically be dealt with and that at least for this moment, needs to be dealt with as if it is a biological myth. In doing so, we can do work to prepare to confront the ways in which knowledge constructed about impairment has constituted and subjugated particular bodies in various ways.

To say it in another way, "The "truth" of what we are is sometimes "as plain as the nose on my face," but sometimes it is hidden and must be brought into the light [sic].10 It is an old practice of those with denigrated identities to hide them, by often ingenious means and monumental effort" (Alcoff 2006, p. 7). In many ways, this paper is about exploring ways in which we can transform silence about our denigration, to outrage about this denigration and a celebration of who we are.

Hauntings

I studied, I didn't pass notes or cut-up a lot or get detention. Since I looked like the "good student" some of my peers liked to compare our grades, especially those students who were so concerned. They would usually begin this performance by stating that they hardly studied for the exam, and usually I would have to tell them that they did better than me, sometimes with a ghostly smirk on my face.

I never told them if I studied, but I think they knew. Most people learned that I could not be compared, but most never knew why. They knew me so well, I lived in the same small town for 12 years, but so much was invisible. I was haunting them, I was whispering in their ears, "This shit doesn't matter, it doesn't matter how hard you studied, it doesn't matter." They didn't want to hear it, and they stopped asking.

Perhaps that's one reason I have been good at the performance of a good student. I find so much pleasure in those moments when people are confronted with misplaced expectations, and this performance helps me negotiate this.

A Short Counter-Narrative on Slow Processing

It hasn't always been easy to slip between the role of the smart student and the labeled, confused, ambiguous, inarticulate, unintelligible, unintellectual student. Sometimes I focus so much on those small things, I forget about the larger things about someone's argument. That question, "What do you think" is so overwhelming that I become anxious and want to talk much longer than the person asking is prepared to hear. I know the lay of the land by way of knowing the context for particulars, and sometimes, these particulars become so intuitive that I forget words to describe them or I'll simply be overwhelmed with, "Where do I begin? There's so much to experience here; this idea can travel to so many places."

That question, "what do you think?" causes a flood of ideas from this hurricane. "What's the point?" A chaotic mess just sent me in sensory overload, and for a moment, a small tidal-wave just disorganized anything I have to offer. There is no single answer that could possibly sum up "what do you think" because I can't think about things right now, I have a hurricane on my hands. All the phallocentric buildings in this town are down, there is no point…—but there is so much to experience here. If only I had some affirmation that the one asking this mundane question (compared to what I just went through) was willing to follow me down detour after detour, to give them the tour, I could answer their question and so much more. But this mundane question is not asking for a tour, so there's no point in answering this question.

This is just one example of a dyslexic experience among many, in which they see me transform from a smart student into a ghost that reminds them of the fiction of a "smart student." We have entered "a kind of disturbance zone where things are not always as they seem, where they are animated by invisible forces whose modes of operation work according to their own logics" (Gordon, 1997, p. 46). Some people get angry or frustrated. Some people will be too afraid to face me as they try and go back to their truths. Some people pity me and try and make things simpler to explain, even though their simpler forms are often more difficult. Perhaps at times there is a sense of helplessness, with such an engaged student so disengaged, or the inescapableness of my silence and shrugged shoulders signals what has momentarily lost, a smart student with smart articulate thoughts. I was haunting them (Gordon, 1997, p. 51).

Lessons Gained in Learning English and Math

Ideas are formally collected in schooling institutions, where they are usually mediated from class lecture or reading, which alters how we can know. My intellectual environment, or perhaps my historical context is vital to my learning process. In learning to spell a new vocabulary word, I was constantly asking how this random, senseless string of letters was supposed to signify a particular meaning that was seemingly nonsensical, intangible, and completely unrepresented in this word. These two random, disconnected puzzle pieces—a word and a definition—did not appear to be part of the same puzzle.

I began asking about the etymology of my vocabulary because these random things out of nowhere were completely incomprehensible. I wanted to learn to read by the historical contexts of the parts of words being spoken, and speak with a context in mind, and an image of something much larger than me, worthy of representing the power of words.

At times my questions would appear unintelligible and some would squint at me, and turn their head to the side to say, "I don't understand your question." the only reply I could give was, "I don't understand what doesn't make sense." This ghost had to be removed for the safety of these other vulnerable minds, and so the day's lessons could carry on without distraction from anything this ghost might want to offer. They saw my files; they saw how I was once infected enough that I had to be quarentined to a special room for special people (As I continue to infect you with my "poor" spelling—My ways of speaking refuse to be quarantined.). They have already heard ghost stories about how we endanger the learning of other students, when word gets around about who the problem student will be next year.

As a ghost I threatened to disrupt the efficiency of the days instruction. I would hear that my questions are taking up too much time, too much space, too much presence (that extra S — was it too excessive, overflowing the confines of spelling standards?). My questions could not be part of a day's lecture or future lectures. I couldn't teach them anything; they had to busy themselves with closing their doors, to keep me from haunting them.11

But I wouldn't be here if it weren't for all those teachers who would stop and ask me to explain my questions, who would invite students to bring in their own explanations of difficult questions. They wouldn't just ask us to explain ourselves, but asked us to learn how to explain ourselves & learn from one another in multiple ways — each student working another angle. I had so much room to facilitate learning in my math classes (and I had a niche for a creative process with math; for me, math is seductive).

I'd ask teachers questions that would get them to tell the tale that I felt my peers were hungry for. This became a regular performance in those spaces I could feel most at ease in. With these teachers, they'd sometimes pause, and glance over at me, seemingly when they weren't quite sure how they wanted to respond. They knew I was playing a facilitating role, and my questions weren't for me.

When I started a question with, "I just want to make sure I understand, so I'm going to try explain it another way and you can tell me if I'm on the right track …" I could specifically offer a mini-lesson that would try to get at the disconnect in communication and conceptualization that I could feel going on. Sometimes there'd be things I'd have a hard time explaining, and teachers would enjoy (perhaps seduced by), the multiple avenues that begin to open up.12

Between the starts and stops and redo-s, we collectively allowed ourselves to get dystracted, to wonder, to wander, to play and dance in this back-and-forth. (Was that "y" in "dystracting" too distracting?) This is when the act of learning is an act of creation, when we can be playful. Playfulness gives a whole different meaning to learning. It can open us up to uncertainty and surprise. We can be open to self-construction, because in playfulness, we are open to being fools, we do not worry about competence and we can construct and reconstruct our worlds in loving, mutually dependent ways (Lugones, 1996).

Final, Very Important, Dystracting Thoughts

In recognizing that there are ghosts we cannot recognize, my ghostly body reminds us that rational constructions of knowledge and learning work to keep us from gaining knowledge from our supposedly irrational body. Normalizing philosophies of education have promoted the idea that clear, efficient communication is an ideal.13 Similarly, many have argued that concretely naming your or your situation is a form of resistance that is empowering. This typically requires that one's morphological ability to "speak" clearly or ones ability to critically understand ones local/global situation well enough to develop a vocabulary (Freire, 1970).

What is forgotten is the potential for tears to articulately speak for themselves or the potential of being overwhelmed into silence by the possibilities. An underlying assumption here is that a thing cannot become real until it is spoken, but what about when it is felt? What of the forms of resistance that do not yet have a recognizable language to define it as such? Like the howl that gives her a way to enter language to rewrite and displace the dominant reading of her body (Henderson, 1992, p.158)?

For those of us concerned with social justice, the new crisis becomes our inability to acknowledge those forms of speech that speak to the inarticulatable-ness of the situation, the silence that speaks volumes, or the potential in knowing that we do not or cannot know. As Davies argues, "The empowered nature of the tongue and of speech and its link often to phallic mastery has to be deconstructed" (1994, p. 160).

My ghostly form knows the potential for confusion and ambiguity well. Confusion tells us that we need to ask more questions, that we do not know everything, and maybe we can learn to recognize that we cannot know everything. With the experience of negotiating confusion, my ghostly form also knows that we do not need to know everything in a clear, transparent, uncomplicated, straightforward ways. The potential of Truth is no longer so great in a body that is well rehearsed in confusion, seduced by detours, and so turned on by new ideas that paying attention to a dialogue becomes impossible. These are also moments that my ghostly form reminds me of the dangers of arrogance and certainty.

And what's worse is that confusion is associated with stupidity. As we become haunted by the powerful fiction of the smart/stupid binary, we become afraid of appearing as foreigner's to the educated, afraid of appearing confused or stupid. As a result, students and professors alike preface their questions with, "I know this might seem like a stupid question" or "I haven't figured this out, but," "I'm not sure if this matters."14 They fear asking so many questions, and I can't help but wonder if those questions that are "too stupid" to be spoken could be the most important, complicating, complex questions.

As I slip between the successfully performing good student and the form of a ghost, which recognizes the potential of confusion, ambiguity, or being wrong. This ghost knows the fictions of the grading system, and the dichotomy between the good and the bad student. In this moment, I can refuse those lesion, or those lessons that make lesions that do not make sense, that were not sensual, not tangible. I can write papers with the intention of creating my own spelling and grammatical techniques, because I Know that we can be reading in so different many ways, and I Know that I need to learn how to teach you that — not just for me, but for you too.15

Furthermore, purposefully not-learning, or perhaps an embodied resistance to certain lessons can be a way of resisting imperialistic, colonizing lessions (Kohl, 1994). My body enjoys wrestling with texts, and writing and rewriting. And to the dismay of the gatekeepers, my dyslexic body will not be disciplined out of certain ways of knowing. All of the rational, scientifically proven intellectual labor cannot overcome the power of this kind of embodied resistance.

What I am suggesting is, the potential for label of learning disability to be systematically useful to marginalize particular epistemologies, or ways of knowing. Considering this, the research we would be doing would look quite differently. We need new ways of talking about and approaching learning disability or even the "bad student" as politically situated, not just medically / biologically situated in a category. This is new terrain. We need different ways of talking to have a new way of (ad)dressing our strengths in ways that can take us further than our weaknesses to prepare us to address social barriers (Smith, 2006, 2008; Docherty, Hughes, et al, 2005).

In discussing people with learning disabilities, our methods must consider the ways in which the construction of impairment weighs on us. It doesn't have to be like this. Words and narratives have the potential to create new meanings, new worlds, new identities, new communities, and can be a way of resisting those structures that press on us, a way of negotiating power (Yancy, 2004; Smith & Sparks, 2008). Our Bodies Need Our Theories. So I beg you (Are you with me?), use your sweet, sweet trouble shooting skills and relocate these problems in new words and worlds because only then can we begin to imagine the potential of building something new. Our schools, our theories, our words need our bodies.

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Endnotes

  1. I want to make explicit, I do not want to simulate a "disabled" way of reading or writing. I am not a disabled reader; I am not impaired (not to deny neurodiversity). My ways of reading and writing, like my ways of knowing, has been systematically marginalized and silenced. My in-tention here is to make visible the limitations in a normative way of writing and reading by playing with language. Standardizing spelling does cultural work to label, police, confine, and negate, but in order to know this, we must play (Lugones, 1996).


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  2. As I speak of working at finding space (in)between "I am" and "learning disabled" I am talking about how "I am," as in some identification with the material reality of my body, is not "learning disabled." In making this claim that my body is not inherently learning disabled, it is important to note that I do identify as "learning disabled" because it is a means of re-remembering the history of how we have been disabled by various medical and educational discourses and institutions. Little by little, these random moments of identification with the term learning disability are becoming increasingly politicized. I can continue to say, "I am not learning disabled" as I begin saying "I am learning disabled," and learn to navigate the territory between these two boarders.


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  3. I am thinking about how drapetomania was a white, professionally established diagnosis for "crazy" slaves who decided run away from their masters. I am also thinking about how some multi-lingual speaker's english has been pathologized as "broken english" (and I lowercase my "e" on english because there are many englishes.)(see Smith, 2002). Also, gender identity disorder and ego dystonic homosexuality.


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  4. I use "demand accommodations" quite intentionally. Often I have heard people use the phrase "I got/received accommodations" in passive sentence construction which fails to recognize the very difficulty and labor required to even negotiate accommodations, much less the difficulty of disclosing. Every act of disclosure or request of accommodations is a demand for what one is due, for recognition of the necessity for a different system.


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  5. Liberalism valorizes individual freedom, says, "All men are created equal." With that, we have everything we need to succeed, we just have to go out and do it. The result of this is the idea that we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, as if we're not at all dependent on social structures to provide mobility. Liberal hopefulness tells us, "You can do it!" without any regard for any consequences.


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  6. It is interesting to note that this is pretty close to the understanding of learning that several Critical Discourse Analysis offer (Rogers, 2004; Lewis & Ketter, 2004; Young, 2004).


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  7. I consider this blocked form of text, flowing into the left margin, to be a kind of sidenote. It is not too different from the endnote or the footnote, but it includes information that is more relevant to the immediate point at hand. It gets into information or ideas that are marginal, but not marginal enough that they should be included in a footnote or an endnote. Sidenotes are useful in taking minor detours from the main story, it also makes these detours more central to the journey, and I think they can help us learn to read in more anti-linear/anti-normative ways.


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  8. I do not mean to imply that I do not give privileges to some of my senses. I do believe I am a visual learner before I am an auditory learner, although I particularly favor my sense of touch. In so many ways, this impulse to privilege some of my senses has larger political implications, but I hope that I can still unsettle how we think about these senses as a source of knowledge and offer new potentials.


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  9. Many of these metaphors come out of different conversations or writings by fellow dyslexics. For example, on the rubrik cube see Wissemann (2008). I am also drawing on metaphors that has a potential to subvert dominating ideologies and appreciate a something of a dyslexic way of knowing.


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  10. I do not think that "[sic]" is enough. I think that this particular quote is problematic because it follows an abilist, white-supremacist construction of "light" as knowledge and "dark" as ignorance. Darkness has a whole world of knowledge and silence can speak volumes.


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  11. To say another way, Michelle Fine argues, "Othering helps us deny the dangers that loiter inside our homes. Othering keeps us from seeing the comforts that linger outside" (1994, p. 72).


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  12. Audre Lorde discusses the potential power in the erotic, to form "a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and the lessens the threat of their difference" (1984, 56). She also notes the ways in which the erotic is a marginalized way of knowing that has tremendous political potential.


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  13. This is reflected in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2001), which promotes efficient (pp. xxi), distraction free (pp. xxiii), clear, concise (pp. 4), defect free (pp. 5) and unambiguous communication (pp. 6). Considering that the majority of educational journals rely on the APA stylistic guidelines, they are also enforcing and disciplining what kinds of language sounds smart and intelligent. By normalizing and standardizing ways of speaking at the very least, we are dictating what educated sounds like. Also see Thomson (2004), Yancy (2004), Delpit & Dowdy (2002).


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  14. I was recently part of a conversation on Democratizing Knowledge, titled "Who counts as smart? Whose knowledge counts as worthy?" It primarily comprised of graduate students and professors. In the mists of this conversation, about three people, out of about fifty present, prefaced their comments similar phrases.


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  15. I remember a time in the 7th grade, where we had a class lesson on writing a five-paragraph essay. We were to repeat the thesis sentence (located in the last sentence of the first paragraph) in the first sentence of the fifth paragraph. Each paragraph was three sentences long, and the body paragraphs started with "First," "Second," and "Third." I didn't know anyone who wrote like this, it was boring, redundant, predictable, far too scripted; now I read this as epistemologically phallocentric (see Griffin, 1978, pg 124-131). It was not mine; it did not make sense, and was not sensual. I could do something new, something fun. I could show my teacher that we could do more, that there was another lesson here. I tell this story because this seems like a good moment to recognize that we cannot always know what our students are telling us, but it is important to (re)remember that they could very well be saying more than we are prepared to hear. And our students may not have the language to describe this kind of embodied resistance.


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