[Cancelled] Negotiating Place, Establishing Identity: A Qualitative Analysis of the Shaping of Educational Experiences by Disabled Children and Their Caregivers (Session 12E)
Main Topic: Flourishing, Well-being, and Social-Emotional Learning
Session Type: Paper
Academic and popular media discussions of child well-being often do not center the needs of disabled children. When disabled children are centered, ideas about the life skills that are essential to their well-being are often heavily influenced by underlying assumptions about normative childhoods, as well as unstated expectations that well-being education can serve as a means through which to ensure their proximity to normalcy. How does the fashioning of inclusive well-being attend to differing notions of ability? What underlying ideas of well-being are forwarded within inclusive extracurricular educational spaces aimed primarily at disabled children? Further, what assumptions about requisite skills guide the development of these programs? In simultaneously pushing back against and reifying ableist hierarchies, how do spaces broadly focused on well-being education for disabled children engender particular kinds of well dis/abled subjectivities? How do disabled children participate in and negotiate their own educational experiences? What are some of the ways in which childhood is constituted for disabled children in the Indian context, and how do these particular notions of childhood shape ideas of educational achievement? This paper will explore the above questions through an analysis of themes emerging from fieldwork on after school extra-curricular educational programs in Delhi. Conceptualizing the field as a set of extracurricular activities and events across different sites that were identified by disabled child interlocutors and their caregivers as integral to their educational experiences, the paper will discuss inclusive well-being programs in sports, theater and the arts. Each program designed inclusive approaches to well-being to create environments that critically investigated normative assumptions about ability and participation. The paper will draw upon participant observations, interviews and ethnographic work around the interactions between disabled children, their caregivers and the facilitators of these after-school programs to argue that extra-curricular spaces outside of the realm of formal K-12 schooling play a crucial role in allowing disabled children to negotiate their identities and shape their educational experiences both within and outside the space of these programs. While the paper will outline some of the dominant narratives originating from the bio-medical model that are often taken up and produced in both home and school settings, it will also move beyond this model by analyzing recent ethnographic data to highlight how both children and their caregivers respond to, wrestle with and continually negotiate the socio-political pressures generated by these narratives. Given the significant diversity in the experiences of disabled children as well as the many constructions of both childhood and disability, this work will pay careful attention to creating spaces where the voices of disabled children are prioritized. Subsequently, the paper will turn to a discussion of some of the ways in which disabled children and their caregivers make meaning of some of their current educational experiences while continuing to compose others that are able to better meet their needs. The paper will conclude with a discussion of the forms of social and community support that enable the co-construction and re-shaping of disabled children’s educational experiences.
- At the end of this session, participants will consider the ways in which definitions of well-being are shaped by local and global contexts.
Keywords: childhood, after school, India
Mx. Kim FernandesUniversity of Pennsylvania - Doctoral Candidate
University of Pennsylvania
Kim Fernandes is a fourth year joint doctoral candidate in Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Development at the Graduate School of Education and Anthropology at the School of Arts and Sciences. Prior to coming to Penn, they worked with the Ministry of Rural Development (Government of India), the Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and Teach For India. They earned their Ed. M. in International Education Policy from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and their B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar. Their dissertation project focuses on the identification and enumeration of disability in India, and they are particularly interested in studying how bodies are made legible to the state.