04 SES 10 B, Improving The Learning Environment From An Inclusive Perspective
Inclusive education has been the talk of the town for a long time. As complex as understanding its ultimate goal – realizing democratic and human rights-based societies (Biewer et al. 2019) – are levels of entanglements of threads of criticism against it. Strides to realize inclusion have been more often than not attributed with labels such as utopian, far from relatable and viable. This has to do with a variety of facts, often related to misunderstandings (inclusion implies the end to special education), misnomers (integration equals inclusion) or limitations in understanding the scope of change needed that are often one-sided.
One of the more concrete approaches to breaking down what inclusion implies is to focus on what works in inclusive school settings and instruction. Zooming into these, classroom practices can help to understand approaches to inclusive practices. In order to understand fundamentals of these approaches, this contribution aims to unearth disciplinary roots of and untangle discomposure in understanding of inclusive approaches to classroom practices. First efforts to develop inclusive schools and teaching practices date back to the 1970s. The OECD, for example, has been working on the topic of integration of children with disabilities into the regular school system since 1978 (cf. Evans, 1993, p. 191). In the UNESCO (1996) publication Legislation Pertaining to Special Needs Education a broad spectrum of countries can be found, having first official “experiments” with inclusive education in the 1980s latest. Even though a broader acceptance and implementation of inclusive education did not start before the 1990s - with the Salamanca Declaration (UNESCO 1994) as a framing document - scientific discussions about the topic began more than a decade earlier. Against this backdrop, it is an astonishing fact that one of the core questions of inclusive education - how to teach in inclusive classrooms - is discussed in a disorderly manner, using several theoretical concepts and terms with only loose connections. This holds especially true when aiming to situate and contrast specific European discourses against Anglo-American concepts.
Using the example of the German-speaking discourse, this paper gives insights into the broad range of concepts being used, a common framework seems missing. German discourses targeting the question of how to teach in inclusive classrooms are framed using the term “Inklusive Didaktik” (inclusive didactics). “Didaktik” as a concept refers to the ‘Art of teaching’ and is a fundamental part of teacher education including the study of teaching, taking into account pedagogical intentions, means and goals (Stangl 2021). Therefore, “Didaktik” is engaged with the selection of teaching content, the appropriate teaching method, and the formulation of teaching objectives.
Following the concept of “inclusive didactics” we set off to explore the different meanings and understandings of inclusive classroom, approaches to instruction and teaching practices. In order to sort the existing discourse, we conducted a literature review capturing the most important terms and concepts in English language and compare it with the concepts of inclusive didactis afterwards. We referred to “Web of Science” as a database for our literature review. In order to compile a collection of reasonable search terms, we used the method of snowball sampling. Starting with terms such as ‘inclusive teaching’, ‘Universal Design for Learning’, we continued to identify additional keywords throughout the publications scanned. This approach resulted in a relatively broad collection of terms, including frequent keywords like ‘Universal Design for Learning’, ‘Differentiated Instruction’, and ‘Inclusive Practice’ but also hardly used keywords like ‘Adaptive Teaching’ or ‘Multiple Means of Representation’.
While compiling and sorting of literature is still in progress, one important conclusion can already be drawn: a comprehensible compilation of ideas, concepts and terminology of inclusive teaching, instruction and classroom practices in the English language is missing. Contrasting with non-English concepts could support the process of structuring, ordering and re-assessing the discourse. Situating diverse lingual and philosophical approaches across Europe, starting with the German-speaking discourse could add clarity and offer support in questions addressing the feasibility of inclusive practices. We would also like to use this session to discuss interest in a special issue about the different European concepts of inclusive teaching, instruction and classroom practice.
Biewer, G., Proyer, M., & Kremsner, G. (2019). Inklusive Schule und Vielfalt. Kohlhammer Verlag Evans, P. (1993). Foreword. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 8(3), 191–193. https://doi.org/10.1080/0885625930080301 Reich, K. (2014). Inklusive Didaktik. Bausteine für eine inklusive Schule.Weinheim, Basel: Beltz. Stangl, W. (2021). Stichwort: 'Didaktik'. Online Lexikon für Psychologie und Pädagogik. https://lexikon.stangl.eu/706/didaktik (2021-01-31) UNESCO (1994). The Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education. Access and Quality.Salamanca, Spain, 7–10 June1994. Paris: UNESCO. UNESCO. 1996. Legislation pertaining to special needs education: The Salamanca Statement, Paris: UNESCO.
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