Children With Learning Differences Exploring Artmaking to Address Deficit-Laden Perspectives

Edited by:
Christa Boske, Kent State University

A volume in the series: Promoting Justice, Diversity, and Inclusivity Through Arts-Based Practices. Editor(s): Christa Boske, Kent State University.

Published 2023

Actively listening and building bridges among students, teachers, and communities provides learners with authentic opportunities to be involved, invested, and ignite meaningful change. This book celebrates students' first-tellings of their experiences as "students with differences" in schools. Throughout the authors' school experiences, they yearned for spaces to share their expertise, thoughts, ideas, talents, and aspirations. These authors emphasize the need to recognize student voice, which they contend, should permeate all levels of collaborative work in schools. These collaborations include, but are not limited to the integration of diverse assessments, differentiation, curriculum design, arts-based projects, inquiry, establishing school policies, and evaluating daily practices in schools.

What students have to say matters. However, authors reiterate how often schools attempted to silence them, especially due to the label assigned to them: "disabled." How students learn matters. What students learn matters. Their untapped sense of wonderment plays a pertinent role in their growth and development. Together, these authors utilize artmaking to express how they navigate oppressive systems, such as school. They contend there is a need for K-12 students to co-create knowledge and build bridges among themselves, educators, families, and diverse communities. Their new ways of knowing through this artmaking process afforded them with a renewed relevance for learning and the need to promote authentic school reform. Bottom line: students matter. Their leadership, creativity, and capacity to think system-wide are essential to classroom, school, curriculum, and community needs. These young authors stress the need to continue this significant work and emphasize the power of student voice through artmaking.

"This book reveals the hidden curriculum behind how students negotiate school environments that are often indifferent or even hostile to them. It demonstrates their resilience, their perceptions and how experiences in the arts inspire them to overcome the school environment which has silenced or marginalized them. The stories in these pages will inspire you and reinforce your belief in the human spirit." — Fenwick English, Florida Gulf Coast University

Introduction: Using Artmaking to Express Being Misunderstood, Undervalued, and Marginalized. CHAPTER 1: “More Feelings ... I’m Laughing”, Max. CHAPTER 2: Feeling in the Middle, Hannah Cohen. CHAPTER 3: Alone, Chloe Schlenk. CHAPTER 4: Injustice, Amiah Robinson. CHAPTER 5: Learning “Dis-ability”, Hunter Langan. CHAPTER 6: Make or Break, Madison Gould. CHAPTER 7: We Have a Lot to Lose, Alex Sprenger. Conclusion: Integrating Meaningful Artmaking in Schools. References.