04 SES 09 E, Teachers And Classroom Practices: Inclusion And Diversity Working with the 'Hard To Reach' Students
The shift in thinking from a deficit discourse driven notion of special education towards inclusive education has seen a range of – sometimes conflicting – interpretations in theory and practice. Special education, most would argue, is built on a medical understanding of disability as a ‘condition’ or ‘limitation’ of a student, labelling (if not stigmatising) these students; the inclusive education discourse understands disability as a socially constructed result of an environment that does not cater for the diversity of people in society, which, therefore, creates barriers through the interchange between persons and environment. The inclusive discourse aims to see the diversity of human beings as ‘normal’ instead of defining a set common ‘norm’ of how people are or should be, and anyone outside of this norm to be different (e.g. Ballard, 2006; 2012). In educational contexts, calls for ‘inclusive teaching practices’ have led to a changed perspective on space, pedagogy, and the relationship between teachers and students, which in effect, one could argue, calls into question the function of teachers and teaching itself, especially considering the changing focus on learning in today’s education discourse, which Biesta (…) has termed lernification. However, what is meant by inclusion and diversity in different contexts, such as policy, curriculum, classroom practice or the public domain, is rather unclear and often muddled. The discourse of inclusion could be described as having become the standard for political correctness in official language in many countries, without always consequently reflecting on and applying the implications that the use of inclusive language entails. This includes educational settings, such as schools and centres, as well as government policies, which in some countries, for example New Zealand, tend to use inclusive language and promote inclusion, but often seem to still operate under a mainstreaming / integration discourse closer linked to a special needs mindset. In educational philosophy and theory, the notion of inclusion and inclusive education has been discussed widely (see, for example, Ballard, 2006; 2012; Carrington & Macarthur, 2012; Florian, 2014) and many individual aspects relevant to inclusive practices have been discussed in depth.
Following fundamental philosophical questions in this context, such as What is inclusion? Who do we include? and Into what do we include people?, a range of five ‘spheres’ of inclusive education will be discussed in this presentation, which together comprise what I want to call a holistic inclusive education model. The proposed model draws on a range of theorists in the international domain, including key concepts from educational theory in Germany and New Zealand. The aspects of a holistic view of education, a whole-child approach, a whole-school approach, a community approach, and a systems approach, which I see as fundamental for the concepts of inclusive education and inclusive pedagogy, will be explained and their role discussed. It will further be outlined how this model could support policy development and decision makers, curriculum and classroom practice. This model is not intended to provide a recipe for inclusive practice, but to show the complexity of aspects involved to help educators to critically reflect on what it means to be inclusive in their particular setting.
This paper sits in the tradition of educational philosophy and theory and mainly uses philosophical concept analysis and careful examination of arguments and the use of terminology to propose a model that combines existing concepts in educational theory, mainly from the German and Anglo-Saxon traditions, to present an integrated, holistic model conceptualising inclusive education for theory, policy and practice.
The expected outcome of this presentation is a robust discussion of the presented work-in-progress model that can further enhance the rigor of the model for final publication. The outcome of the finished paper will be the presentation of a robust holistic inclusive education model to inform the academic discourse, policy decision making, and curriculum and classroom development.
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