[nabs] P.E. experiences
zack.olson.85 at gmail.com
Sat Oct 1 22:01:28 EDT 2011
As a former education major, I can say that a lot of the crap you and I dealt with is being addressed. They teach explicitly that things like having the child with a disability be scorekeeper is *not* acceptable, unless that child is too severely disabled to physically participate, and truly is okay with being scorekeeper.
As far as inclusion goes, inclusion is rarely completely full. TVI’ still do pull-out service for their students, probably more than you think. Since the larger percentage of visually impaired children end up with deficiencies in math and reading—which in itself influences the entire educational career—children do spen time in a resource roo, or other location within a school—like a school library—practicing reading and math, and learning things like braille skills and assistive tech. Inclusion is a *very* important trend. The instance of bullying in the schools today is both tremendous and extremely unsettling. The only way to stop things like that, and to get other nondisabled students to understand about students with disabilities, is to have them right there in the regular classroom, participating *as much as possible*. Those nondisabled students grow up to be nondisabled adults, and (as scary as the thought may be sometimes) may also become policy makers. The more they know about and accept people with visual impairment or blindness, the better off we will be. Inclusion also provides much needed socialization, which students with visual impairment and blindness don’t get anywhere else. I think some people with visual impairments or blindness are hampered more by their lack of social skills than anything else. I know several extremely smart people with blindness who are extremely braille literate and very good with assistive technology, but their significant lack of social skills keeps them on the fringes.
Where braille skills are concerned, the larger majority of visually impaired students are not totally blind, or really even close. They may not benefit from rigorous braille instruction. I agree one hundred percent that students who will benefit from braille instruction should absolutely be given the time to learn and practice those skills. I think training in assistive technology for these students is every bit as important in our information driven and technologically inclined society. Some of the blame here can fall onto the shoulders of TVI’s, but only the ones who are not properly trained or do not make sufficient efforts to advocate for their students. However, even TVI’s who are not properly trained can only accept part of the blame. The rest of that blame has to be placed on the university they were trained at and upon the government and larger society for not valuing visually impaired students enough to make the training of TVI’s a priority. I will defend the TVI’s, but I will not defend the universities who provide insufficient training for TVI’s. Nor will I defend the larger society’s pajoritive and devaluative view of people with visual impairment or blindness, or people with disabilities in general. School districts are also to blame for providing their special education departments with insufficient funds to purchase adaptive materials and to pay more employees. I’d venture to say that a lot of TVI’s—and teachers in general—are underpaid and overworked. Here in Illinois, we can also blame our long run of jackass governors, particularly Mr. (and I use that term very lightly) Blagoyavich for cutting funds to the state adaptive materials center after he was elected in 2000. The education system is screwed up for all students, not just those with blindness or visual impairment. Everything is testing-driven. A lot of schools spend up to three weeks a year studying for standardized tests, that takes time away from the education of all students. Thank NCLB for that nonsense.
There are so many factors that go into, and come out of, education that it is impossible to place blame squarely on the shoulders of one person or even a group of people. We have to also remember that some visually impaired students may be resistent to learning things like braille and O&M skills. You can only teach a resistent student as much as they are willing to know.
My ultimate point about inclusion is: as long as students with disabilities are included in regular ed classrooms, it is impossible for schools, school districts, and the state and federal government to disregard them completely. We have passed the days when all of us “poor blind kids” would be shipped off to residential schools, or the days when we’d be shut away in self-contained classrooms, and it’s about damn time. We have as much right to socialization and educational excellence as any other student, and with the next generation of students with blindness and visual impairment spending so much time in regular ed classrooms with their peers, there are potentially great advances in acceptance and policy to be made. These are the children that can lead the social revolution from the inside, and potentially create a sense of community with their nondisabled peers. It is a matter of balancing inclusion with the specialized skills that students with blindness and visual impairment need to learn.
From: Ashley Bramlett
Sent: Saturday, October 01, 2011 7:20 PM
To: Discussion list for NABS,National Alliance of Blind Students.
Subject: Re: [nabs] P.E. experiences
Yes inclusion is becoming the thing, and I don’t think its all good.
Blind kids need to learn the adaptive skills like braille and assistive technology.
There is not time for this unless you are working an hour with a TVI daily or maybe every other day; therefore you have to miss something in the regular classroom. Kids in early grades are reading as a class as the teacher points to
words. A blind student cannot see that, but if they are lucky they’ll have a braille copy but may not know how to read it. While we do read in the same direction, someone needs to sit with the blind kid and show him/her how to read correctly and separate the hands as they read meaning while one hand finishes the line, the other comes down and finds the next line. There are critical reading and writing skills a TVI needs to teach and practice. Not to mention the other adaptive skills. Its my experience that my TVI had to do way more adapting in elementary school so I could do the same work. Why? Because kids learn more by pictures, diagrams, and games at the elementary level. For instance there was ven diagrams which are two overlapping circles. Then you have story webs and story maps which are basically a bunch of lines and boxes or circles to illustrate a story plot or story components. We also had things like connect the dots and see the finished picture and cross word puzzles. Some of these I did in large print; others I just had as worksheets such as the cross word puzzles. The TVI brailled the clues and number of letters and I filled in the answers.
Now in middle and high school it was more lecture and discussion based. So I just listened and took notes and did the homework like everyone else. I
got the teacher’s overheads brailled as an accomodation.
Because no one educates regular ed teachers they do not know how to adapt something and a blind student can very easily fall behind or be a nonparticipant. Overall I had good TVIs.
But um PE was a bad story. Unlike Zach, there was no adaptive PE in my elementary school. So that was never a debate whether to do adaptive PE or regular.
Actually, I was in a resource room for part of elementary school, a room for blind/vi students. We saw the TVI daily and then joined the mainstream class.
They took that resource room away though in 2003 or sometime around there. Now there is still a resource room for secondary school, but most school systems don’t have this.
Anyway, other than two years of elementary school, I was not in adaptive PE. There was none. I cannot remember elementary ed PE. In middle school, we had to dress out. I felt like I just got an A and did not earn it.
We sat in rows to get instructions and warm up. I picked a spot in front with the teacher’s help so I could hear and see her clearly.
I remember the hard gym floor was uncomfortable, but I sat like everyone else waiting for class to begin.
I was assigned a classmate tutor to show me the warmup. Then I recall doing it with everyone else; things like jumping jacks, crunches, push ups and stretches. The rest of class I wasn’t included and found it boring. During running, I was assigned a classmate as a guide and ran like everyone else. But I’ll add that no one showed me the mechanics of running or how to move my arms right so I probably didn’t learn good running mechanics because I couldn’t see it.
The rest of class was devoted to sports. My O&M instructor did advocate a little. I only participated in volleyball and basketball and I don’t think anything else.
Sometimes an aid from the special ed room took me to the wait room to use the treadmill instead of doing the class sports.
In volleyball, I served the ball. In basketball, I was either dribbling on the side with a classmate or actually in the game shooting hoops. Someone handed me the ball instead of
me catching it. BTW, I usually hit the basketball rim, not the hoop.
Oh and one more thing they did try to adapt and sort of include me was dance. This was in elementary school too. I think we did the electric slide, some country line dance, and square dance. Classmates tried to explain the moves.
In high school, no one wanted to adapt PE and we were told it was mostly sports driven. So at my IEP we discussed me taking wait training, which is actually an elective only for 11th and 12th graders.
I agreed to the class substitution. I felt I got way more out of wait training than a PE class. My teacher the first year was great. He
showed us stretches and some exercise drills in the extra gym at the beginning; this was not in the wait room. I was
showed these and he explained it as well. He used me as the example for some of the drills. Sometimes we ran outside and a classmate volunteered to help. He showed me all the wait equipment in the wait room and how it was used.
Everyone worked in partners though, not just me. It was a good class and I got to meet some upperclassmen as well.
My last two years PE was not a requirement so I took another elective. So overall, PE was not a good experience, but it was better than what some blind students get. Sometimes I’d be on the side watching a game. In elementary school, I was asked to be score keeper sometimes.
But I did learn some skills about fitness, however, it was no way near the amount my sighted peers learned.
From: Zack Olson [ACB Student Advocate Editor]
Sent: Saturday, October 01, 2011 4:58 PM
To: National Alliance of Blind Students. Discussion list for NABS
Subject: [nabs] P.E. experiences
This is a spin off thread from comments made by Chase on Ashley’s O&M related post.
I'd say that your experiences as a student with a disability may be very different than those of us who are maybe one generation in front of you. Inclusion has become much more of a regular and expected thing within the last ten years or so. Hopefully, it will continue that way. I participated in regular gym classes throughout grade school until middle school, where I was in the adaptive P.E. class--which was boring as hell. I also took adaptive P.E. my first year of high school. Also boring as hell. My sophomore year, I decided to take regular P.E. I found that the particular instructor I had was very unwilling to change much of anything to adapt the class for me. He had no understanding of the adaptations he would need to make, and nobody was educating him about such things. When I tried to assert myself, he pretty much made things difficult for me. After a while, I just stopped dressing for class. It was my way of seeing what would happen, and also of daring him to fail me. He didn't attempt to make more adaptations and he didn't fail me either. It was a disappointing experience. It was clear that he didn't value me as a participant in the class and just wanted me out of his hair. Well, he didn't have much hair left, but you get the picture. ;) I found out later from some other students with disabilities that went to my school that the attitudes of the other P.E. instructors was much the same toward them as it was toward me. It was the reason that they had opted to take the adaptive P.E. classes instead of regular P.E. They and their parents got the distinct feeling at IEP meetings that the P.E. instructors didn't want kids with disabilities in their classes, and that it wasn't their job to "handle" kids with disabilities, even if full inclusion for them would have been a fairly simple thing, as it is in so many cases.
I spent several semesters as an education major, and I'm glad to say that those attitudes are addressed directly in the curriculum of the education program at my university. However, it is not guaranteed that the preconceived attitudes and biases that students come into the program with will be changed. I am generalizing here, but I met quite a few physical education students in a child and adolescent development class I took last semester, and none of them knew a damn thing about children with disabilities or even seemed to care about their misconceptions or dismissive attitudes toward children with disabilities. I will not say that that is the rule for all P.E. majors, because it isn't, but it is something that most definitely needs to be addressed as many times as possible throughout the course of the physical education program at this university, and other universities as well.
This is an example of an area of education where greater amounts of advocacy and education about students with disabilities has to take place. Some people still feel that this area is not as important as other issues that students with blindness and visual impairment are facing, but as we all know, obesity is becoming a large (pun not intended) problem in the U.S., and the segment of the visually impaired and blind population that are part of that growing trend is alarming. It is one thing to put on some weight in college when it is hard to find the time to go to the gym. It is entirely another thing when P.E. is supposed to be part of the curriculum of all K through 12 students. The larger issues attached to this argument is the fact that separate is note equal; something that Brown v. Board of Education proved quite a few decades ago.
I’d be curious to hear about the experiences of others if anyone wants to comment further on this subject.
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