In Search of Better Angels: Stories of Disability in the Human Family

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Do children and adults with disabilities enrich our lives? Far more than most people imagine. In Search of Better Angels is a testament to the value of individuals with disabilities and the value that society could derive from being more welcoming to and inclusive of them. The reward is the powerful humanizing influence that they can have on others-even some of the most hardened people among us. Colorful, real-life examples illustrate how a disability can be a valuable human attribute, a powerful source of compassion from which everyone can benefit. What are the challenges that face us as we strive for a more inclusive society? What are the values that should guide us in our efforts? The result is a compelling case for understanding and celebrating human diversity. Smith asks us to summon the "better angels" of our character and affirm our commitment to a society based on equality and democracy.

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Editorial Reviews

Leonard O. Pellicer

"We must first understand others before we can care about them and we must care about them before we can love them. In this book, J. David Smith takes us on a fascinating journey from understanding to caring to love."

Long version:

"This is not just a book about special education or people with disabilities, this is a book about humanity and what it means to be human!

J. David Smith carries on in the best tradition of the great Southern storytellers. He will make you laugh, he will make you cry, but most importantly, he will make you think!

There are insights in this wonderful book that, if taken to heart, can make us all "better angels!"

We must first understand others before we can care about them and we must care about them before we can love them. In this book, J. David Smith takes us on a fascinating journey from understanding to caring to love."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761938408
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 5/8/2003
  • Series: One-Off Series
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

J. David Smith is Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor at the University of Virginia's College at Wise. He earned both baccalaureate and graduate degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University. He was awarded a second master's degree and his doctorate from Columbia University. His professional experience includes a work as a public school teacher and as a counselor. He and his wife, Joyce, served two years in Jamaica working as Peace Corps volunteers. Before coming to The University of Virginia's College at Wise as Provost, he served as Dean of the School of Education and Human Services at Longwood University. He also served as Chair of the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of South Carolina. He began his higher education career at Lynchburg College. Smith has made numerous invited presentations to national and international audiences and regularly contributes to the professional literature on education, human services, and public policy through journal articles. He is the author of ten books. One of the integrating themes of his research and writing has been a concern for the rights and dignity of people with disabilities. Smith has devoted much of his scholarship to the study of the history of eugenics and its impact on social and educational policy, and he has also been active in addressing contemporary problems and issues in education.

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Table of Contents

About the Author
Introduction: Power and Epiphany - Reflections on the Personal and Cultural Value of Disabilities 1
Pt. I My Own Journey 7
1 Disability and Revelation: Lessons Learned and Flying Squirrels 9
2 Learning to Love, Loving to Learn: Mike and the Clown Faces 15
3 Inclusion, Exclusion, and Other Matters of the Heart: The Story of Nan 21
4 Disabling Prejudice: Aunt Celie and the Marble Cake 29
5 Lessons in Patois: Learning to Be a Jamaican 37
6 A Father's Proud Moment: The Day My Daughter Became a Gifted Samaritan 45
7 Recapturing the Spirit of Caring: Uncle, Brownie, and Sausage Biscuits 49
Pt. II Disability, Science, and Pseudoscience 57
8 Eugenics, Old and New: Mensa and the Human Genome Project 59
9 Eugenics Revisited: Buck Versus Bell and The Bell Curve 69
10 Old Texts, Disabilities, and Persistent Argument: For Whom the Bell Curves 73
11 Different Voices of Advocacy: Helen Keller and Burton Blatt 79
12 A Place or No Place for Disabilities: Disney's Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burroughs's Eugenics, and Visions of Utopian Perfection 85
13 The Polio Vaccine Research and Children With Disabilities: Sacrifices for the Miracle 93
Pt. III Disability in Historical and Literary Perspectives 103
14 Disability and the Need for a Romantic Science: Darwin's Last Child 105
15 Words of Understanding, Concepts of Inclusiveness: The Wisdom of Margaret Mead 111
16 The Question of Differential Advocacy: Laura Bridgman 117
17 Disabilities and the Challenges of Equality: Looking Backward, Looking Forward 125
18 Diversity and Disability: Individuality and Mental Retardation 131
Epilogue: Finding a Voice - The Story of Bill 139
Index 143
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