Academic journal article Journal of Catholic Education

Special Education in Catholic Schools Viewed from a Liberatory Hermeneutic

Academic journal article Journal of Catholic Education

Special Education in Catholic Schools Viewed from a Liberatory Hermeneutic

Article excerpt

What should be the Church's ethical response to the issue of serving children with disabilities? In the current era of political and ideological polarization, this question carries the additional moral implication of advocating for the marginalized in U.S. society, including those who have experienced discrimination or harassment based on nationality, gender, or race. The case has already been made as a matter of traditional Catholic Social Teaching, based upon the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, that Catholic schools should offer special education services (Carlson, 2014). However, most Catholic schools still do not admit children with disabilities, nor has there been a systematic national debate regarding inclusion (Carlson, 2014). Furthermore, while the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB, 1978, 1998) has listened justly to the cries of people with disabilities and their families, the USCCB's calls for offering special educational services for children have gone largely unheeded. In this article, we propose a liberatory hermeneutic to critically examine this issue, to help rouse U.S. Catholics from our slumber, to foster that debate, and to take a conscious, ethical stance to either serve or not to serve students with disabilities.

Little, if any, literature exists regarding the conjunction of a Christian, liberatory pedagogy and special education (Carlson, 2016). While there is a growing body of literature, in fact, until the last few years, very little literature was making the case for special education in Catholic Schools (Bello, 2006; Carlson, 2014; Durrow, 2007, Frabutt, 2013; Scanlan, 2009). In investigating this conjunction, one would typically begin with a critical (liberation) pedagogy. Liberation psychology would be a logical addition since it has practical, therapeutic, and theoretical applications to special education. However, to ground our liberatory hermeneutical analysis of special education in Catholic schools, we begin with a review of liberation theology. Because liberation theology's application to the marginalized, including children with disabilities, is such a large part of the moral mandate for offering special education, we will attempt to synthesize liberation theology with liberation psychology, liberation ethics, and liberation pedagogy. Although each liberation theory can stand on its own merits, the disciplines all have their grounding in the tenets of liberation theology. In fact, the theorists cited here drew upon each other's work and that of other liberation theologians. In essence, liberation theology represents the heart and soul of our analysis.

This paper springs, in part, from the Subversive Orthopraxy Project at Marquette University. The Subversive Orthopraxy Project investigates the motivation of compassion, a virtue central to human dignity, worth and well-being, within the self in those whom society considers others. Our project is subversive in that it spotlights the peripheral, actualizes social justice, and empowers the marginalized. It is orthopraxis in that it uses our disciplines for just practice and the common good, as well as personal and social transformation. Our academically diverse team conducted this study through the conceptual framework of liberation theories across disciplines, specifically, pedagogy (Freire, 1970); theology (Gutierrez, 1971); psychology (Martin-Baro, 1996; Shulman & Watson, 2010); ethics (Dussel, 2013); philosophy (Lee, 2013), and history (Dussel, 2013).

After a brief description of liberation theology, based mainly on the work of Gustavo Gutierrez (2011), we introduce the liberation psychology of Ignacio Martin-Baro, S.J., (1991) who was murdered for his work with the poor in El Salvador in 1989. The third section will be a brief treatment of the liberation pedagogy of Paulo Freire (1970), using his concepts of annunciation, denunciation, and conscientization. Gutierrez (2011), Enrique Dussel (2003), and Martin-Baro (1991) reference Freire in their writings and Catholic higher education uses his work widely. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.