They’re Called the “Throwaways”

Children in Special Education Using Artmaking for Social Change

Volume Editor: Christa Boske
School communities identified these children as the “throwaways”-children who often experienced bullying, abuse, foster care, juvenile detention, and special education services. In this book, children with learning differences engage in artmaking as sensemaking to deepen their understanding of what it means to live on the margins in U.S. public K-12 schools. Their artmaking calls upon educators, school leaders, and policymakers to actively engage in addressing the injustices many of the children faced in school. This book is revolutionary. For the first time, children with learning differences, teachers, staff, and school leaders come together and share how they understand the role artmaking as sensemaking plays in empowering disenfranchised populations. Together, they encourage school community members to examine pedagogical practices, eliminate exclusive policies, and promote social justice-oriented work in schools. Their artmaking inspires new ways of knowing and responding to the lived experiences of children with learning differences. They hope their work encourages school communities to make authentic connections to improve their learning, capacity to love others, and of most importantly, to value oneself. Authors’ first-tellings capture the human experience of navigating through oppressive educational systems. Authors urge us to consider what it means to be empathic and to engage in the lives of those we serve. Their truths remind us to that standing still should never be an option.

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Christa Boske, is an Associate Professor of PreK-12 Educational Administration and works to encourage school leaders to promote humanity in schools, especially for children and families from historically disenfranchised populations. She has worked with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Esperanza, Minority Male Achievement, Ambition Limitless, Honor Good Deeds, Dare2Care, Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Parents Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), Equality Ohio, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Northeast Ohio Diversity Center, Sistah Sinema, Welcoming Schools, CANAPI, Medina Out, and over 45 school leaders and teachers to create free workshops promoting culturally responsive practices and policies to make school safe for all children. Her most recent research has been published in, among many others: Journal of School Leadership, National Forum Journal of Supervision, and SOJO (Social Justice Journal).
“This is an inspiring book which re-establishes the primacy of the arts in enabling learners to understand their own identities and begin the long journey to self-hood. It is long overdue and will go a long way to creating a more balanced curriculum than the sole concentration on math and science." - Fenwick W. English, R. Wendell Eaves Senior Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership, School of Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
“Could this book be the WAKE-UP call that the field of educational administration has so desperately needed? In these inspirational, though often heartbreaking “first-telling” stories by “throwaway” children and their caring teachers and school leaders, we see the answers to leadership for social justice, if only we ourselves had the courage to stand up and shout. Intellectually, to see giants such as Elliot Eisner, Howard Gardner and especially Maxine Greene brought together by the author, Christa Boske, once again brings hope that we will find our way out from the quantitative prison of management theories which hold public education hostage under the guise of productivity and school improvement.” - Ira Bogotch, Professor of Educational Leadership, Florida Atlantic University and Co-Editor (with Carolyn Shields) of the new International Handbook on Social (In)Justice and Educational Leadership
"A phenomenal book for a time such as this and for students, teachers, staff, administrators, parents, professors, and community such as us. If we subscribe to the "all children can learn" philosophy, then we must acknowledge that arts-based education is vital for children to succeed. This should be required reading in Schools and Colleges of Education across this country." - Judy A. Alston, Professor in the Department Doctoral Studies and Advanced Programs, Ashland University and Author of School Leadership and Administration - 9th edition
“In this beautifully crafted book, Christa Boske concludes that "artmaking actively engag[es] children in developing a critical consciousness, and stronger sense of self." All school leaders need to read this research and understand how to encourage and support teachers and community members in capturing the power of first-tellings.” - Margaret Grogan, Professor, Dean of the College of Educational Studies, Chapman University and Effie H. Jones Humanitarian Award from the American Association of School Superintendents (AASA)
‘This text courageously affords children who have been marginalized to have not only voice but a demand that their humanity cannot be disregarded simply because of their learning differences. The alignment of leadership, social justice, the call for policy and practice reform and art making as sense making opens notions of educational leadership to new frontiers that have long needed to have men explored. Christa Boske dares to combine authors who challenge educators to transform their thinking regarding students with learning differences. Additionally, Boske requires readers to advocate for ways to diminish the minimizing of students’ humanity because of intellectual challenges that have historically cast students in a negative light. The book demands that we search deeply to unearth ways to welcome the creativity of children as a means to give voice to their very being. It is a call and challenge for policy transformation through a critical leadership that is grounded in social justice, equity, and celebrating difference.” - Michael Dantley, Professor, Dean of the College of Education, Health and Society, Miami University and Master Professor Award from the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA)
“Boske and her contributors have created a volume that a poignant chorus of first-tellings of resilience and oppression. This is an excellent read for those engaged in the work of improving society through service to learners and their families, teachers, and school leaders. Aspiring educators and leaders in both educational policy and school administration would do well to absorb the jaw dropping and profound stories offered by some of the most vulnerable in our society. As readers we are given us no choice but to catch our breath mid-chapter to consider simultaneously the power of art beyond traditional understandings, and our responsibility to the everyday experiences of learners and educators. The magic of this effort is rooted in the elegant examination of the overlooked and obscured truths about the power of self-expression in the face of strife. I simply could not put it down.” - Autumn Tooms Cyprès, Professor, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, St. John’s University and President, International Council of Professors of Educational Leadership
"This book provides tangible evidence of the power of providing students on the margins with the tools to make their voices heard. We need to take the education of students with disabilities seriously in a wholistic, inclusive and enriching fashion and this work provides key insights into this essential work." - George Theoharis, Professor, Syracuse University and Author of The School Leaders Our Children Deserve: Seven Keys to Equity, Social Justice, and School Reform
List of Figures

1 Introduction: Artmaking as Sensemaking as a Portrait of Resilience for Children with Learning Differences
Christa Boske

PART 1: Children Voices

2 You Can’t Get in My Shoe
3 The Cage
4 One of the Best (Because I Worked so Hard on This)
5 “Acception”
6 Princess
7 The Flame of Anger
8 I Want People to Listen
9 Animal Land
10 Helping Hands
11 Treat Women Like Flowers-They Are Gentle
12 Magna Shoe
13 Deep Blue
14 Barricade
15 My Story
16 Freedom
17 The Cycle #Dark Side
The Old Me (Author) and the New Me (Author)
18 I Look Fabulous
19 Born for Bred

PART 2: Adult Voices

20 Born for Bred
21 The Tension of Duality
22 Diversity Is My Degree
23 Adversity
24 The Sky Is the Limit
25 They Lived Their Art
26 The Children Touch My Heart
27 Raw: The Thread That Connects Us
28 Confronting Anxieties on a Small Scale
29 Leading through Artmaking: Recognizing the Power of Arts-Based Approaches
30 Developing My Approach to Working with Children
31 The “Red R” Kid: Disrupting My Deficit-Laden Label
32 Living the Dream
33 Afterword: The Power of the Artmaking as Sensemaking
Christa Boske
All interested in promoting social justice-oriented work in schools, especially those interested in understanding the role artmaking as sensemaking plays for children with learning differences.