In this autoethnographic article we focus on the issues of “disability” and “inclusive education” and the challenges of being positive and affirming in this area of research and practice. As a teacher, I (Alina) continue to encounter regularly the dominant deficit view of “disability,” in spite of the extensive body of literature that advocates for the rights of people with disabilities as well as the benefits of inclusive education best built on strength-based thinking. The autoethnographic methodology allowed me to explore my experiences as an educator and reflect on specific events, presented through four vignettes that capture how my beliefs and values as an educator have formed over time. Throughout the article, I work closely with two academic colleagues (Ed and Jane), who become my critical friends, as I travel through this personal and professional journey that includes emotional reaction, reflection and academic analysis. I also engage with the emerging field of strength-based approaches to disability, as well as the importance of dialogue and justice, on an individual and professional level, with the aim of empowerment for students and teachers.


disability, inclusive education, deficit thinking, strength-based practices, autoethnography

Author Bio(s)

Alina Kewanian is an experienced teacher and doctoral candidate researching disability and inclusionary practices in education. She has worked with diverse student groups including refugees, those with differences, and international students. Please direct correspondence to alinakewanian@monash.edu.

Dr Edwin Creely is an educator, academic, and writer with an interest in creativity, poetry, literacy (L1 and L2), inclusive education, critical pedagogy, theory and philosophy, digital pedagogy and technology, and learning. He has wide ranging experience in education from primary and secondary to tertiary and adult education. Please direct correspondence to Edwin.Creely@monash.edu.

Dr. Jane Southcott is an Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, Monash University, Australia. Jane is a phenomenologist who researches community engagement with music and cultural identity focusing on positive ageing. She has also undertaken research in inclusion in education. Please direct correspondence to jane.southcott@monash.edu.

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