Academic journal article Learning Disability Quarterly

Positioning New Patterns of Privilege in Learning: A Response to Ware

Academic journal article Learning Disability Quarterly

Positioning New Patterns of Privilege in Learning: A Response to Ware

Article excerpt


This special series represents collective courage because what is willing to be risked may be profound.At center is a willingness to reach out and cultivate new conversations on disability. Indeed, the artists who contribute to Ware's article are key co-authors; their art ushers us into a new disability literacy that extends and challenges current cultural scripts. We examine four central themes informed by Ware's text and art-based educational research (ABER) linked to the larger series conversation on interdisciplinary research methodology.


disability studies, learning disability, interdisciplinary research, ABER

Complexity and Art as Invitation

We applaud Ware's address of complexity; interacting in and making sense of the world is complex activity. Ware (2011, this issue) recognizes the complexity of identity and the contributions of disability studies (DS) in deepening our understandings of how labeling and categorizing affect individual and collective identity. Ware offers DS as a means for cultivating "new conversations on disability." Furthermore, Ware repositions the identity conversation by not only talking about the role of the arts but also actually inviting us into an arts-based conversation with those who experience disability as part of their identity. As advocates for bringing multiple voices to the educational research and practice table (Mariage, Paxton-Buursma, & Bouck, 2004), we support Ware's privileging of DS and disability arts as one way to increase multi-vocality in research with, of, and for those identified with disabilities.

Given the need for broadening the complex terrain of engaging with disability, we wish to strengthen and extend Ware's invitation by considering how ABER provides one more avenue in the plurality of research practices that can deepen our understanding of learning disabilities (LD) research and practice. While disability arts and DS provide theoretical entry points into understanding the lived experience of those with disabilities, such particularity may cause professionals to reduce a broader role of the arts or ABER in LD research and practice.

Although we do not have the space for in-depth discussion, we recognize that those involved in the arts and educational research and practice admittedly still wrestle with distinctions between art that informs and teaches and art that researches (O'Donoghue, 2009). Likewise, whether ABER stands alone as a research paradigm or is firmly rooted in qualitative research methods is also debated (O'Donoghue, 2009). However, great strides in defining and describing the issues, purposes, processes, and practices, as well as the promises and pitfalls, of ABER in general (Cahnmann-Taylor & Siegesmund, 2008; O'Donoghue, 2009; Smithbell, 2010) inform our brief summary of ABER features. Arts-based educational research typically differs from traditional scientific quantitative research in its:

* Purpose: ABER creates another way of seeing or knowing (Barone, 2008; Eisner, 2008);

* Methods: ABER's pre and post structural nature alters the "methodological turf" by reshaping scientific foundations through performance, narrative, visual, improvisational, pluralistic, and iterative inquiry activity (Barone, as cited in Rolling, 2010);

* Data analysis and findings: ABER recognizes subjectivity in research analysis as a stepping-stone to reflexivity and an examination of one's own previously held assumptions about the research topic. Barone and Eisner (2006) argued that this engagement leads to empathy and a deeper understanding of research than is possible with a traditional representation.

Living and learning in a diverse, global context that affords dignity to all requires us to engage with and pursue complexity through multiple ways of knowing. We welcome the interdisciplinary richness that art brings, specifically the exploratory capital ABER affords in probing the complexities of identity and other persistent issues in the field of LD through disability literacy and disability arts. …

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