Give me a thousand gestures: Embodied meaning and severe, multiple disabilities in segregated special needs education
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In this dissertation I investigate subjective embodied experiences of students in primary and secondary schools. The eight students participating in the study all have the diagnose multiple disability, yet they have a variety interests, meanings, social backgrounds and experiences. To develop knowledge that goes beyond the prevailing medical and social understandings of disability, I have applied phenomenology of perception as understood by Maurice Merleau-Ponty to attend to the students' perspectives. Due to the complexity of the disability, the participating students express them self through pre-symbolic, embodied gestures. Thus, in line with Merleau-Ponty's aim to provide a philosophy that extend empiricism and intellectualism, I have accredited movement as a third path towards knowledge about human experiences. Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology of perception has provided a possibility to attend to movements and embodied gestures as non-symbolic expressions that are qualitatively different from, yet not inferior to symbolic language. To approach the subjective perspectives of the students in pedagogical everyday life, I have conducted close observations, taking part in everyday life in three special needs education units. The study's focus has been the subjective perspective of the students. Hence, close observations have provided data about lived experiences in lifeworlds where expressions are direct, without filters or manipulative intentions. I have also conducted phenomenological interviews with pedagogical staff members in order to shed light on how students and pedagogical staff co-create situations. The use of both observations and interviews has shed light on the particularly vulnerability and relational dependency in being a student with severe and multiple disability in the educational context.Paper I: Kristin Vindhol Evensen, Øyvind Førland Standal and Borgunn Ytterhus. Name of paper: "A golden paper, a chain and a bag. The meaning of things in a special needs education unit". Accepted in "Phenomenology & Practice", special issue "Things".Paper II: Kristin Vindhol Evensen, Borgunn Ytterhus and Øyvind Førland Standal. Name of paper: "He is not crying for real. Severe, multiple Disabilities and embodied Constraint in two special Needs Units". 2nd review in "Scandinavian Journal of Disabiltiy Research".Paper III: Kristin Vindhol Evensen and Øyvind Førland Standal. Name of paper: "Unfolding Reversibility: Spatiality and Special Needs Education". Submitted to Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology.Paper IV: Wenche Schrøder Bjorbækmo, Kristin Vindhol Evensen, Karen Synne Groven, Gro Rugseth and Øyvind Førland Standal. Name of paper: "Phenomenology of professional practices in education and health care: an empirical investigation". Submitted to "Phenomenology & Practice".
Avhandling (doktorgrad) - Norges idrettshøgskole, 2018