10 SES 09 C, The European Doctorate in Teacher Education: Transnational perspectives of teacher learning in an emerging Europe
When the European Union signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UN-CRPD) in 2011, all member states agreed to follow the implementation of structures that will allow for “persons with disabilities […] to access an inclusive, quality and free primary education and secondary education on an equal basis with others in the communities in which they live” (Article 24. 2). Seven years into the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020, which lists education and training as one of the key areas for action (2010, p. 7), I explore educational inclusion in a Polish primary school. I argue that a medicalised view of children with special needs interferes with and frustrates all attempts made to include them in mainstream education. Theoretically, my claim is guided by the works of disability scholars Michael Oliver and Shelley Tremain who stress that medicalised research on people with disabilities has been one too many times about the manifestation of their biological limitedness in comparison to their able-bodied counterparts and rarely about the individual’s emancipation and the critical gaze back onto disabling structures of society (Oliver, 1999; Tremain, 2001). Instead of following the dead-end-logic that regards impairment as a problem of the individual, they offer the social model of disability, evident also in the UN-CRPD, with which I critically review policies and practice that are geared towards including children with disabilities. Methodologically, I am inspired by Paul Willis’s example of ethnographic research in schools (1977) which yet “patronising and condescending” (Willis, 1977, p. 194) in some ways, allows me to work with quotes and descriptions from a fifth grade class and their teachers, in order to nurture the reader’s engagement with “social existence” (Willis, 1977, p. 194) along the line of in-, respectively exclusion from education and at times society as a whole. I situate my work opposite to what Lorraine Code deems the terrain of positivist epistemologies in which the knower is detached, a neutral spectator whose cognitive efforts are replicable by any other individual knower in the same circumstances (2012, p. 87). On the contrary, I encourage engagement with the moments I witnessed and inevitably became involved in when judgements were passed on vulnerable individuals marked by categories of power/disempowerment in state-run, educational institutions. Ultimately then, this paper results in the recommendation of starting points for teacher learning that correspond with adequate concepts for teaching multi-needs classrooms.
Code, Lorraine (2012): Taking Subjectivity into Account. In: C.W. Ruitenberg and D.C. Phillips (Eds.): Education, Culture and Epistemological Diversity, Contemporary Philosophies and Theories in Education, pp. 85-100. European Commission (2010): European Disability Strategy 2010-2020. Retrieved from: http://eur- lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2010:0636:FIN:en:PDF, Jan. 20, 2017. Oliver, Michael (1984): The politics of disability. In: Critical Social Policy, 4:21, pp. 21-32. Oliver, Michael (1999): Capitalism, disability and ideology: A materialist critique of the Normalization principle. In: Flynn, Robert J. and Raymond A. Lemay (Eds.): A Quarter-Century of Normalization and Social Role Valorization: Evolution and Impact. Internet publication RL:http://www.independentliving.org/docs3/oliver99.pdf. Tremain, Shelly (2001): On the government of disability. In: Social Theory and Practice, 27:4, pp. 617-636. United Nations Committee on the Rights of People with Disabilities (2015): United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Retrieved from: http://disabilitycouncilinternational.org, Jan. 20, 2017.
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