Undoing Ableism: Teaching About Disability in K-12 Classrooms (2020) by Susan Baglieri and Priya Lalvani is a remarkably useful resource both for K-12 teachers and teacher educators working with general and special education credential candidates. The authors seamlessly draw together disability theory with practical lesson plans and resources that could be used in classrooms immediately. Baglieri and Lalvani invite learners to examine powerful essential questions regarding the meaning of disability and how ableism operates in schools and communities. The authors also devote chapters to the history of disability rights and culture, providing a plethora of videos, museum websites, and archival materials about each topic. Overall, the book skillfully draws together rich theoretical frameworks alongside concrete suggestions for practical application in the classroom.

Rooted in disability studies in education, Baglieri and Lalvani describe ways to teach the medical and the social models of disability. The authors consistently frame disability in the broader context of presuming diversity in the world rather than seeing difference as a problem, while drawing upon concepts of intersectionality, power, and hegemony. The authors suggest teaching these concepts through a lens of critical inquiry stating, "critical inquiry refers to asking questions about the world and our experience in order to look beyond what may seem evident on the surface" (p. 29). Baglieri and Lalvani offer a critical process of problem posing, dialogue with others, seeking to learn more about the experiences of disability and ableism, and taking action for change. This is the framework they use to work through these challenging topics, while providing a wealth of resources, readings, activities, and sample handouts that allow teachers to bring to life the concepts they are seeking to have students unpack.

One lesson that Baglieri and Lalvani suggest is reading the books The Giver or Brave New World and focusing on themes of normality and ability through a disability studies lens. Another idea is to look at topics such as accessible design and the use of adaptive tools within STEM classes. The authors describe in detail how to select materials that accurately represent the experience of disability, such as first-person narratives and children's books. I found myself wishing there was a website or blog with links for all of the rich and insightful resources. While this text is a practical sourcebook, it always stays rooted in critical theory and pedagogy. It does not merely provide activities for teachers to do in isolation but offers a framework for inquiry and exploration with the goal of designing and creating inclusive worlds.

As a teacher educator, I might use Undoing Ableism in an introduction to special education class because Baglieri and Lalvani invite readers to examine the lived experiences of disabled people rather than describing disability categories, which is the typical medical model approach of many introductory texts. I might also have students read this in a graduate class, as it builds nicely on Baglieri's earlier text with Arthur Shapiro, Disability Studies and the Inclusive Classroom: Critical Practices for Embracing Diversity in Education (2017), which I currently have students read. While Baglieri and Shapiro's (2017) book provides extensive information on disability studies theory and the history of disability in society and schools, Undoing Ableism does a bit of the same while providing concrete suggestions for deeply exploring these ideas in classroom settings.

In the beginning of Undoing Ableism, the authors provide their purpose for writing the book, noting,

We - the authors - teach about ableism because we have witnessed through our personal experiences and work with those who've experienced seclusion from society or marginalization in schools, not only the damaging outcomes of society's failure to question the oppression of people with disabilities, but also the power of these ideas when people have an 'a-ha' moment that changes understandings of disability for self and others. We work against all types of segregation in schools and society through our roles as teacher educators, researchers, and mothers. Writing a book for teachers about teaching ableism, specifically, responds to a gap among the many sourcebooks dedicated to practice in social justice education. (p. 6)

In Undoing Ableism Baglieri and Lalvani skillfully show that a gap in knowledge about disability exists and provide a powerful guide for using critical inquiry to understand and humanize the experience of disability.

References

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