Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Beyond the Monster's Wanting and Doing: Special Education as a Barrier and Diacritical Hermeneutics as Possibility

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Beyond the Monster's Wanting and Doing: Special Education as a Barrier and Diacritical Hermeneutics as Possibility

Article excerpt


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 wards: Discourse, psychology, mental health, special education, subject, democracy, phronesis, experience, pedagogy


Cette etude de cas interpretative et hermeneutique renvoie e une experience concernant le placement d'une eleve dans une classe d'inclusion scolaire qui ne voulait passe retrouver la et en avait informe les educateurs autour d'elle avant son placement. Elle a affirme qu'elle allait << ... tout faire pour se faire expulser de ce placement>> et c'est, finalement, ce qui est arrive. Grace cette etude de cas je soutiens que les politiques de l'education specialisee et son infusion dans la psychologic, notamment avec le manuel diagnostique et statistique des troubles mentaux, dissimulent ou limitent les moyens possibles pour ces eleves d'etre, en raison de la facon dont nous utilisons ce langage pour les cadrer. Selon moi, le diagnostic et le codage dans l'education specialisee sont plus que des etiquettes : ils sont constitutifs et je soutiens que nous jouons un ro1e dans cette action constituante. L'approche hermeneutique diacritique de Richard Kearney reve1e des possibilites de voir les differences en dehors du concept binaire normal / anormal. Une telle approche pourrait nous permettre d'estimer ces eleves en dehors de l'exteriorite du cadrage de l'education specialisee. Il se peut que nous voyions plus ouvertemem leurs droits en tant qu'etres humains, leur laissant ainsi un espace pour raconter leurs histoires afin que nous les entendions. Parallelement nous pourrions egalement reflechir de facon critique sur nos roles dans l'appui et l'aide aux eleves.

Mots cles: Le discours, la psychologie, la sante mentale, l'education specialisee, le sujet, la democratie, la phronesis, l'experience, la pedagogie

A diacritical hermeneutics of discernment, committed to the dialogue of self-and-other, wagers that it is still possible for us to struggle for a greater philosophical understanding of Others and, so doing, do them more justice.

Richard Kearney (2003)

The Monster arrives and leaves, demanding something different from us, then and now

I had not yet met her and plans were being made with the classroom team to contain her. Her 'success plan,' a summary of best strategies created from her time at a mental health services day treatment program, emphasized the need to highly structure her school days in order to limit her opportunities to be involved with students engaged in 'at-risk' behaviour. Her diagnosis portrayed a young adult who wanted to belong but did not have the navigational skills to know how to do this with the 'right' groups. In the past she often 'belonged' to gang-like groups and made statements of being engaged in gang-like activities to other groups of students. …

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