Doing right by Teacher aides, students with disabilities, and relational social justice
In this article, Gill Rutherford seeks to understand, from the perspectives of teacher aides, the influence of their work on the school experiences of New Zealand students with disabilities. Rutherford contributes to a growing body of international research regarding the role of teacher aides that documents the complex and ambiguous nature of their work. Ironically, given the injustice of assigning unqualified teacher aides to students whose learning support requirements (through no fault of their own) often challenge teachers, the findings of the study suggest that aides may contribute to the development of a more just education by virtue of their relationships with students with disabilities. Teacher aides’ knowing and caring about students in terms of their humanity and competence resulted in their recognizing and addressing injustices experienced by students. In acting on students’ behalf, in “doing right by” each student, these aides enabled students to enact their formal right to education. The study findings, interpreted within a framework of relational social justice, add another dimension to what has already been documented in research literature about the paradoxical nature of teacher aides’ work.
Publisher: Harvard Education Publishing Group
Rights Statement: Copyright © by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. This article has been reprinted with permission of the Harvard Educational Review (ISSN 0017-8055) for personal use only. Posting on a public website or on a listserv is not allowed. Any other use, print or electronic, will require written permission from the Review. You may subscribe to HER at www.harvardeducationalreview.org. HER is published quarterly by the Harvard Education Publishing Group, 8 Story Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, tel. 617-495- 3432. Copyright © by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.
Keywords: disabled students; teacher aides; social justice; education
Research Type: Journal Article