ERG SES H 13, Social Justice and Education
Being labelled as a learning disabled student can be challenging for students with LD because they are detached from the education system that emphasises ability and achievement. It is also demanding for teachers as they are expected to teach all students in order to pass exams and ensure that none of the students holds back. The low achievement score will have a significant impact on the school’s positioning in the league table. Therefore, teachers are supposed to provide modified learning aides to ensure that students with LD participate. Nonetheless, most of the teachers have limited knowledge of modifying a curriculum and how a rigid curriculum is implemented in public schools in Indonesia creates further concerns, as the curriculum is not responsive to the needs of the student. As a result, students who cannot meet the standard are more likely to be left behind. Labelling had a profound effect on the student’s identity, burdening him and hindering his possibility of becoming an active and valued citizen. His voice was silent and remained ‘unimportant’. As a representative of the wider society, the school has a responsibility to uphold the values that encourage and prepare all members to actively participate and belong to one another, rather than being an institution that mainly emphasises individuality and competition. For most of the schools, there is the notion of neoliberalism with an emphasis on how schools highlight the values of competitiveness and productivity in order to sustain and ‘win’ the race in the global market (Marginson & van der Wende, 2007). Therefore, students are excessively taught in a way that encourages a competitive mentality (Kai, 2012), which is mainly based on achieving a self-centred goal rather than willingly pursuing a wider goal that requires the involvement (Winchester, 2013) of families, schools, and communities as an opportunity to promote students’ achievement (Hands, 2010).
So far, limited research or studies have been conducted in the Indonesian context that focus on issue of inclusion in regular school settings, especially public schools, despite children with special needs being found in these classrooms (Deng & Holdsworth, 2007; Lee & Low, 2013). Most studies of inclusive practice have taken place in inclusive school settings and are restricted to academic-related issues (Alfian, 2013; Prastiyono, 2013), teachers’ perspectives (Kurniawati, Minnaert, Mangunsong, & Ahmed, 2012), and concerned with common types of disability, such as physical and intellectual disabilities (Mujaddid, 2014; Prasetyo, 2014). This study is also important as there is a gap in the literature exploring students’ voices about their participation experiences at school. Interestingly, most of the literature written by the Indonesian scholars emphasises professionals’ knowledge of defining and explaining LD, as well as the treatment available (Abdurrahman, 2012; Kumara et al., 2014). By revealing their lived experiences in the midst of multiple and complex discourses, students are invited to offer their unique understandings (Connor, 2008). Therefore, my study will describe how classroom practices is addressed and articulated in a regular public school where the issue of disability, such as LD is less prominent.
By using the social constructionism epistemology, I will focus on the interaction between students with and without LD, students and teachers, teachers and parents and parents and students, as well as how school members and other stakeholders articulate the shared norms and patterns. The knowledge as a social and cultural product will be negotiated continuously by the school members and myself as a researcher.
The research question is what are the practices that inhibit inclusion in a public primary school in Indonesia?
The research paradigm used for this study is interpretivist approach which is based on the notion that people interpret and construct the realities in the sociocultural contexts of language and beliefs. For this study, an interpretivist approach was used to seek understanding about children with LD in the regular public primary schools which are not legally assigned as inclusive schools. To gain and understanding the lived experience of participants, I interact and talk with people within their environments, undertake open-ended interviews with them, and analyse documents. Highlighting the participants’ perspectives and their interpretations. As Ferguson and Ferguson (1995) suggest: …disability is not a fact-an entity-whose nature is just waiting to be discovered. Disability is rather an experience waiting to be described or, more precisely, a multitude of experiences waiting to be described (p.113). The design of the study is an ethnographic case study. It will give a rich portrait of a single setting to inform knowledge and practice, which give values about the topic of interest (Simons, 2009). Using the term ethnographic with a case study signals that the context and interaction of the students being studied are seen as an indispensable part of the social system (Walters, 2007) rather than seeing the students as separated identities. For this article, I would only present my on-going findings resulted from one research site. The interviews were undertaken with one teacher and students at school based on our prior agreement. One class teacher from the fourth grade level agreed to participate in this study. With her permission, interviews were audio taped and transcribed. Once the interviews had been transcribed, the adult participants were given a copy of their interview transcript to read over. They were allowed to change or delete any information they did not want to be included in the study. Being in the classroom where the events occurred, I was able to gain information by asking questions, probing, and gaining more information from them about what happened and why things occurred as they did. I found informal interviewing as a suitable strategy for gaining students’ perspectives, understandings, and experiences of disability and the classroom practices that support and/ or inhibit inclusion. I involved in their daily programmes inside and outside the classroom and learn more about inclusion from their point of views.
The preliminary findings of this study showed that teacher’s comments suggested that she held knowledge that upheld the deficit view about students with LD due to the unmet expectation, as she said: ‘Yeah, I see that they just can’t (high tone), just can’t (looks tense). When I ask them, they reply back at me, saying ‘what is it, Miss, what is it? (sigh) They can’t.’ The teacher assumed that being LD was a sensible reason for not having friends. Compatibility is one quality required in friendships: …when it talks about friendship, it is common to have smart students will be with the other smart students, so they will avoid (pause) avoid eehhe (they) might think that (Santi and Nining) are slow to think, even for a small thing, (they) are slow. Even though the teacher had a responsibility to provide support and assistance for the students, observations in the class did not confirm this role. In this case, Nining was the one whose difficulty remains unnoticeable: Mrs. Lestari continues her lesson by saying, ‘You have mentioned various professions, now write in your book beside your last exercise!’ ... She says, ‘Which of these professions produce goods or services?’ Then a boy sitting on the second row from the back asking to her, ‘What about a seller, does he produce goods or service, Mrs?’ his eyes looks at her. She directly replies, ‘Think yourself! … Nining doesn’t do her work, she is just silent while looking at her peers talking one another (23 March 2017). This study has shown that there were some particular constructions and understanding about disability in a classroom that were associated with unfriendly, ignorance, disrespect, discriminatory, and inequitable for students with LD.
Connor, D. J. (2008). Urban narratives: Portraits in progress, life at the intersections of learning disabilities, race, & social class. New York, NY: Peter Lang. Deng, M., & Holdsworth, J. C. (2007). From unconscious to conscious inclusion: Meeting special education needs in China. Disability & Society, 22(5), 507-522. Ferguson, P. M., & Ferguson, D. L. (1995). The interpretivist view of special education and disability: The value of telling stories. In T. M. Skrtic (Ed.), Disability and democracy: Reconstructing (special) education for postmodernity (pp. 104-121). New York: Teachers College Press. Kai, J. (2012). The Origin and Consequences of Excess Competition in Education. Chinese Education & Society, 45(2), 8-20. Kumara, A., Kumalasari, A. J., Rustam, A., Andriana, E., Trunoyudo, E. A., Kurniastuti, I., . . . Santoso, S. W. (2014). Kesulitan berbahasa pada anak: Deteksi dini dan penanganannya. Yogyakarta: PT. Kanisius. Kurniawati, F., Minnaert, A., Mangunsong, F., & Ahmed, W. (2012). Empirical Study on Primary School Teachers’ Attitudes Towards Inclusive Education in Jakarta, Indonesia. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 69, 1430-1436. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.12.082 Lee, L. W., & Low, H. M. (2013). ‘Unconscious’ inclusion of students with learning disabilities in a Malaysian mainstream primary school: teachers' perspectives. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 13(3), 218-228. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-3802.2012.01250.x Marginson, S., & van der Wende, M. (2007). To rank or to be ranked: The impact of global rankings in higher education. Journal of Studies in International Education, 11(3-4), 306-329. doi: 10.1177/1028315307303544 Mujaddid. (2014). Kesehatan anak dengan disabilitas Buletin Jendela Data dan Informasi Kesehatan: Situasi Penyandang Disabilitas (pp. 25-30). Jakarta: Kementerian Kesehatan RI. Prasetyo, F. A. (2014). Disabilitas dan isu kesehatan: Antara evolusi konsep, hak asasi, kompleksitas masalah dan tantangan Buletin Jendela Data dan Informasi Kesehatan: Situasi Penyandang Disabilitas (pp. 31-40). Jakarta: Kementerian Kesehatan RI. Prastiyono. (2013). Implementasi kebijakan pendidikan inklusif (studi di sekolah Galuh Handayani Suarabaya). DIA, Jurnal Administrasi Publik, 11(1), 117-128. Simons, H. (2009). Case study research in practice. LA: Sage. Walters, S. (2007). 'Case study' or 'ethnography'? Defining terms, making choices and defending the worth of a case. In G. Walford (Ed.), Methodological developments in ethnography: Studies in the educational ethnography (Vol. 12, pp. 89-108). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: Elsevier. Winchester, I. (2013). Editorial: Two meanings of collaboration in education. Interchange, 44(3), 149-151. doi: 10.1007/s10780-014-9203-9
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