From Inclusion to Community: lecture from the 2019 Camphill Research Symposium

Last July, Camphill communities in upstate New York hosted the joint International Communal Studies Association and Camphill Research Symposium conference. Our colleagues at the Camphill Foundation have published a number of Camphill Research Symposium lectures online, and we’ve made them available through the Camphill Research Network!

The 2019 Camphill Research Symposium was unforgettable. The conversations throughout, whether within formal or informal spaces, made clear the common commitments to greater love and wholeness. And how special to get to stay on the Camphill campus! I met several new friends that I imagine will be colleagues and friends for a very long time.

Amy Ferrell
Today we’re highlighting a lecture from Amy Ferrell.  Amy is an assistant professor of special education in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado Denver, where she studies community, discourse, and literacy for people with disabilities.
Click the video above to see Amy’s presentation and others on the Camphill Research Network!

Leveraging a perspective of community as a site of mutual giving, I work to reframe the decades-long debate of inclusion in the field of special education. Instead of culturally derived and socially constructed norms of independence, achievement, and success as emancipatory, I propose that true community counters oppression, segregation, and control. In a true community, efforts toward inclusion become obsolete, as inclusion presumes a center where assimilative characteristics are required for access to the dominant norm. Informed by data from an ethnographic study in which I challenge idealized independence as necessary for access to the community for adults with developmental disabilities, I propose that a philosophy of community can reframe discourses of inclusion and diversity, especially with respect to the dualism of general and special education. Rather than conceptualizing inclusion as simply an issue of physical space, the distribution of resources, or even an instructional context, a discussion of community would render the long-time points of contention in the field as ancillary. Instead, consideration is given not only to the ways individuals contribute to the collective, but also to the process of each person’s edification toward their own belovedness, which occurs in community.

Amy Ferrell, “From Inclusion to Community: Reframing Discourses of Inclusion in Special Education”
Amy Ferrell is the mother of James and John, who teach her all about herself and the world. She loves to read, go for walks, get together with friends, dance, travel, and “sing” karaoke. She studies community, discourse, and literacy for people with disabilities. Her scholarship, which situates disability research in social, cultural, historical, racial, linguistic, and political contexts, has appeared in journals such as Harvard Educational Review, Reading Research Quarterly, Urban Education, Linguistics and Education, and International Journal of Inclusive Education. She is co-author of the second edition of The Ethics of Special Education (Teachers College Press).
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