Friday, April 17, 2009

The Short Bus by Jonathan Mooney

I have been reading this wonderful book, The Short Bus by Jonathan Mooney. Mooney travels throughout the United States in a special education short bus named Bob Henry (named after someone he met early on in his journey). During this trip, Mooney meets a variety of adults and children with diverse abilities and disabilities. This journey not only involves learning about the diversity of others, but it also involves a journey of self-discovery for Mooney. He directly faces his own difficult personal experiences in special education through buying and traveling in the ultimate symbol of abnormality and stigma in public education, the short bus. The book is centered on something that Mooney is driven to study, the danger of the concept normality. How is it that we decide who is normal and abnormal? What is emotional impact on those with disabilities to this social pressure to “fix” them and view them as being abnormal? Why can’t we look past what society views as being “wrong” with these individuals, to see what is right?

I will have many postings centered on some parts of Mooney’s book. It is excellent book I highly recommend it; if you haven’t read it already and are interested in this topic, this is a must read. I have attached a few clips from YouTube about this book. Mooney visits many individuals in the book, but of course my heart was drawn to the story of Katie Basford in Seaman, Ohio, who is a young woman who happens to have Down syndrome. There will also be a documentary about Mooney’s short bus journey, but it appears that it hasn’t been released yet. There is a clip below of the documentary which includes part of Mooney’s visit with Basford.
Thank you, Jonathan Mooney for this wonderful book.

I would like to end this post with a quote that Mooney has at the beginning of his book.

“The judges of normality are present everywhere. We are in the society of the teacher-judge, the doctor-judge, the educator-judge, the social worker-judge; it is on them that the universal reign of the normative is based; and each individual, wherever he may find himself, subjects to it his body, his gestures, his behavior, his aptitudes, his achievements. “ – Michel Foucault

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