Beyond the monster’s wanting and doing: Special Education as a barrier and diacritical hermeneutics as possibility
This hermeneutic, interpretive case study reflects on an experience with the placement of a student in a specialized classroom who did not want to be there and had informed educators around her of this prior to her placement. She claimed she would “do anything to get kicked out of the placement” and ultimately, this happened. Through this case study I argue that Special Education policy and its infusion into psychology, especially through the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, conceals or limits the possible ways for such students to be because of how we use that language to frame them. Special Education diagnosis and coding are more than labels, I suggest: they are constitutive and we play a role in that constituting action, I argue. Richard Kearney’s Diacritical Hermeneutic approach reveals possibilities for seeing differences outside of the binary of normal / abnormal. Such an approach could allow us to value such students outside the exteriority of Special Education’s framing. We may more openly see their rights as human beings, thus allowing them the space to tell their stories so that we hear them. Concurrently, I suggest we might also critically reflect on our roles in supporting students.
Key words: Discourse, psychology, mental health, special education, subject, democracy, phronesis, experience, pedagogy
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