Inclusive Education

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Decolonizing Education

Decolonizing Education

Nourishing the Learning Spirit
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One Without the Other

One Without the Other

Stories of Unity Through Diversity and Inclusion
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Excerpt

PART 1

What Is Inclusion?

Debunking the Myths

You may be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t believe in inclusion and the values of diversity on some level. Plus, it is pretty hard to avoid. Ken Robinson (2009) said it best: “The only thing students have in common is the year of their birth!” The individuals of the world are not packaged into neat little packages of people organized by age or ability, gender, or language (although I suppose there are some who would like to try!). Can you imagine if, when we walked into a grocery store, access to checkout tills were determined by these labels? It would be an absurd idea in every place in society, except in the classrooms of our schools. This unnatural arrangement is where the practical aspects of inclusion get messy, definitions of the concept start to get fuzzy, and our practices become a mismatch to our beliefs about what inclusion means in the world outside our classroom doors. It doesn’t take long to notice how frequently we all, even if in the same school or community, understand inclusion differently.

Early in my career, I realized this discrepancy, and it caused tensions in my quest to understand inclusion in both philosophical and practical terms. My first question was: If we are to believe in and try to move forward in our inclusive practice as educators, don’t we all need to have a common understanding of what it means? The unfortunate reality, however, is that the term inclusion has become contaminated (Thomas and Loxley 2007). A once-powerful word that drove equal access campaigns for students of different abilities, strengths, and challenges, the term inclusion has instead come to be associated with lack of funding, time, and supports – a political playing card that has turned our most vulnerable learners into a burden, defined by ratios and deficits. Further tension emerges when trying to create a consensus of how to enact practices of inclusion across districts, schools, and classrooms, leaving both teachers and students feeling like they are being shuffled around a building without the supports, resources, and understanding behind the inclusive rationale. The reality, however, is that there is no answer. There is no one way of being inclusive. Addressing diversity can be achieved in many ways, depending on the history, experience, knowledge, and philosophies of the stakeholders involved. Somewhere along this quest, however, answers have collided, and where once stood a common philosophy bringing educators together, myths and assumptions have formed about the practicalities of inclusive education that divide staff, parents, and students alike.

Reclaiming the word and concept of inclusive education and calibrating our definitions among teachers, administrators, support staff, parents, and students was the beginning of my inclusive journey, and so, I thought, what a perfect place to begin this text. What is inclusion – both philosophically and practically? And how can we align these definitions so that our practices better match our beliefs as individuals, schools, and communities of natural diversity? Part of this reclamation is to simply debunk some of the myths driving the education silos, but also to start to reconstruct the practical realities of inclusive education.

In the following chapters, I attempt to describe these practical implications of inclusive education to help situate the rest of this text and to connect our values of inclusion to our everyday practices.

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Bold School

Bold School

An Inquiry Model to Transform Teaching
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Social Justice in Physical Education

Social Justice in Physical Education

Critical Reflections and Pedagogies for Change
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