We live in a world where children with disabilities are discriminated across the globe. The shear nature of our society is based on trying to improve things and never settling for individual differences that make us unique.
In my line of work, I find that more time is spent finding a “better” place for a child to be educated than trying to make the existing school placement more accessible. It is much easier to say that this child does not belong than to be challenged by individual differences. Surely, this goes against the ethos of inclusion which is about acceptance. The most important and crucial fear factor that children or young people with disabilities have is how far they will be accepted by their societies and the people they interact with on a daily basis.
We make the assumption that it is only the people that care about them who have a responsibility to include but the reality is that we all do. Society has a lot to do with the way we shape our perception of disability.
I learnt this week that the history and foundations of special education is based on segregation rather than inclusion. Look it up if you don’t believe me.
It’s too late to change our collective history now. The truth is that people with disabilities are at a disadvantage, but there are things that we can do to stop the segregation and exclusion from getting worse.
What actions do you take which support the inclusion of individuals with unique characteristics and differences?
Including them once doesn’t go far enough. How do you help others to understand and embrace individual difference?
The job of an inclusive educator is often quite thankless. The parents are most grateful because our job supports the progress and independence of their beloved children and sometimes depending on individual circumstances, we might be more ecstatic than the parent because we’ve worked really to ensure that the child or young person is given every opportunity to suceed . If you think about it, we celebrate the smallest steps of progress.
One of the things that I enjoy most about this line of work is shifting attitudes and perspectives on inclusive education and special educational needs.
Not everyone will be grateful for the work that we do but I don’t know about you, sometimes that spurs me on. I find joy in the fact that I want to give someone a fighting chance when not everyone does.
Research shows that the attitude of teachers are essential to the success of inclusive education programs for children with special needs (Avramidis & Norwich, 2002). This is also dependent on the country and type of special educational need and/or disability.
Generally speaking, most educators (in my experience) do have positive attitudes about special needs but if it gets tough, it becomes less about the educator’s ability and more about the child’s needs, which I think should always be challenged. The role of the inclusive educator is to find a way include the child. I am no expert but I imagine that is not an easy thing to do however it is where the inclusive educator finds their greatest success stories and children/young people are most grateful. This applies to all fields and disciplines, not just the class teachers and teaching assistants. How has your work helped to include a child despite their differences?
It is not easy for the child or young person to always be different but I bet they are grateful every time someone gives them an opportunity to suceed.
What is your motivation? I’m grateful to all inclusive educators out there who are invested in levelling the playing field for some of our most vulnerable members of the world.