04 SES 09 B, Identifying And Reducing Exclusionary Pressures In Education
There are apparent tensions within inclusive practices and education and while they might appear to be new tensions; they are not. In fact, while inclusive education has a greater platform now than before; there is an emerging risk in that new groups of people will find themselves excluded by the similar barriers to those with disabilities. Is it now time for “inclusion” and “inclusive education” to include more that disability?
Universal Design (UD) is a philosophy that originated from design thinking and architecture ( Storey et al, 1998) with the objective of ensuring buildings be accessible to the greatest diversity of people possible – without negating the need for add-on accommodation. It is a philosophy that has been embraced in education in a number of frameworks ( Scott, 2001). Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is one such approach (Rose & Meyers, 2006) offering opportunity to both the teacher and learner in a classroom seeking to include. The authors of this paper wish to argue that UD and UDL are broad philosophies and need to be considered as they are adopted. They cannot presume to be prescriptive and are not the end game – rather the ‘beginning’ of new discourse that has to be nurtured – particularly as we seek to include more in the “inclusion debate”.
This paper will take the reader on a journey of the past while simultaneously exploring the future of ‘inclusion’. There are lessons from the past that we cannot yet disregard. The medical model (Parsons, 1951) failed to recognise that inherent barriers in society existed, including in the classroom (Oliver, 1996). ’Experts’ in disability, education and inclusion were the result of a fixed approach, where the professionals knew best – better that the person with a disability (Brisenden, 1986). The social model of disability initiated the model of inclusive education and creation of new opportunity for people with disabilities across education. (Griffin& Shevlin, 2007)
By focusing on the history of the disability movement which sought to overcome clearly identifiable challenges; this paper will explore what we need to now consider when developing a contemporary inclusive approach across the education system; in particular one where inclusion now needs to be broader than disability
This will be outlined under three headings
- How ‘disability’ frames our definition of inclusion
- Where advice and expertise now fits in this system
- And finally, the effect of this discourse on contemporary research and researchers themselves
This paper will focus on the emerging contradictions in the world of inclusion. If we aim to leave no one behind – we need to be able to shine a light into the dark corners.
This paper will take a transformative approach in that it is the cumulative learning and will include the experience of each of the authors that shape the findings. The conclusions will be primarily informed by a critical review of the literature relating to inclusive Education, Disability, Universal Design and Universal Design for Learning. Bronfenbrenner’s ecosystem (Bronfenbrenner, 1979) will be used as a framework (Mc Guckin & Minton, 2014) to explore the theories of disability in relation to the philosophy UD and UDL and highlight the enabling impact this discourse can have for many – teachers, researchers and learners alike. This presentation will explore both the tensions and unlikely harmonies between ‘disability’, ‘Universal Design’ ‘Bronfenbrenner’ and ‘Inclusion’. The discourse on ‘inclusion’ is evolving and as it does it demands that all ‘ voices’ be included – past and present – across and through disciplines. The authors will argue • Unless we take a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach, we are at risk of once again medicalising our thinking and approach to the model that is inclusive education. • That Universal Design for Learning is a developed paradigm (done deal) – it’s not. It continues to develop apace and is not confined to teaching, pedagogy and the classroom. • That a UDL approach needs to focus on more than the learner if it is to embrace the diversity that need to be included across education (researcher/ teacher/ lecturers). This is a research and applied practice project that will demonstrate how the combined approaches of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Bronfenbrenner, and Disability, can show a clear and positive path ahead. Aligning the literature with current practice and conceptualising the experience of research today, using both the Universal Design for Learning framework and the Bronfenbrenner ecosystem, will be particularly innovative as both models are well-suited to explore where discourse of inclusion is currently at. The authors are members and currently conveners of the IES group; a research group “ based on the central principle of supporting the inclusion of people from marginalised groups in education and society through focused research.” https://www.tcd.ie/Education/research/groups/ies/ . This position will also lend itself to the development of this discourse.
Universal Design (UD) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL)and Bronfenbrenner (1979) are well suited to exploring an emerging discourse for contemporary inclusion, and moves away from prescriptive approaches. The framework affords an opportunity to theorize inclusion, not just by considering those that in the past found themselves excluded; but moreover by also involving those that currently find themselves excluded (ecology) – whether they are defined by their disability or not. In addition, in placing the professional that is seeking to work with this new diversity of excluded learners; with new methods and in a new world – a different conversation will emerge about ‘inclusive education’ and ‘inclusion’. The different theories, language (drivers) and disciplines (medical, sociological, psychological, pedagogical) at play all contribute to a multidisciplinary view of ‘inclusion’. Universal Design (UD) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) are developing frameworks originating from architectural thinking. As a ‘design approach’ they demand that what we really mean and understand by ‘inclusion’ be considered from the beginning of any design process if it is to endure. UDL espouses to be a framework of ‘inclusion’ where most people (with a diversity of need, whether with a disability or not) will benefit (Rose & Meyer, 2006). By placing this ‘thinking’ in a Bronfenbrenner framework, ‘inclusion’ is at the very epicentre of ‘inclusive practice’ and consequently, at the heart of research for all researchers.
Brisenden, S. (1986). Independent living and the medical model of disability. Disability, Handicap & Society, 1(2), 173-178. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development Cambridge. MA: Harvard. Griffin, S. & Shevlin, M. (eds) (2011) Responding to Special Educational Needs. (2nd edn). Dublin: Gill and MacMillan. Mc Guckin, C., & Minton, S.J. (2014). From theory to practice: Two ecosystemic approaches and their applications to understanding school bullying. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 24(1),36 – 48 OLIVER, M. (1996) A sociology of disability or a disablist sociology? in: L. BARTON (Ed.) Disability and Society, pp. 18–42 (London and New York, Longman). Parsons, T. (1951) The Social System (Glencoe, The Free Press). Rose, D.H., and Meyer, A., Eds. (2006). A practical reader in Universal Design for Learning. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. Scott, S. S., McGuire, J. M., & Shaw, S. (2001). Principles of universal design for instruction. Story, M. F., Mueller, J. L., & Mace, R. L. (1998). The univer- sal design file: Designing for people of all ages and abilities. Raleigh, NC: Center for Universal Design. Retrieved from http://www.ncsu.edu/ncsu/design/cud/pubs_p/pudfiletoc.htm
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