04 SES 07 A, Developing Inclusive Education
There is not enough research on multi-grade schooling, especially regarding teaching methods and the degree to which diversity is acknowledged in classrooms. In this manner, this thesis seeks to allocate an importance to rural education research that it has yet to receive in academic studies or in the teaching field. The international literature on this theme manifests how rural education continues to be one the least-researched areas in the field of education (Little, 1995, 2001; Coladarci, 2007). Keeping in mind that 30% of the world’s schools are multigrade, this thesis will contribute to this field, to support the freedom, education and development of this type of school.
Gardner says that the biggest mistake in teaching during the last centuries has been to treat all children like they are variants of the same individual, which allows us to justify teaching them all the same information, in the same manner. There are different authors on the same line of Gardner who criticize the homogenization in the classroom. Barbera defined a graduate school as an idealist conception according to which students must have certain skills at an appropriate age (Barbera, 1991). This myth is based on the false belief that all boys and girls have the same physical abilities, mental and social (Uttech, 2001). Tonucci (1996) adds that age was the only difference not accepted by the school, a diversity that has no meaning outside its walls and he has never found any convincing reasons to form homogeneous groups of age.
Ferguson and Jeanchild, in Stainback & Stainback (2004:187), alert that merely grouping young people with different characteristics together does not necessarily promote their learning, or encourage them to establish positive relationships. In reality, if teachers are not careful, the opposite can happen. Physical proximity is necessary, but it is not enough. The two main factors that determine success or failure when teaching heterogeneous groups are the way the student groups are organized and the way their learning experiences are planned.
This thesis aims to analyze and develop understanding about the teaching and learning process in multigrade rural schools. In particular, it studies the educational practices that assume (Fierro, 2004) and consider the heterogeneity (inclusive practices) of the classroom, and thus provide an educational solution for each student. As Little says (2006:32)‘All over the world, children of different ages and grades are educated together. Far from being backward, these systems may have much to teach us...’
In an attempt to advance the construction of knowledge about multigrade schooling1, the research questions of my thesis are:
Avoiding generalizations, what do we mean when we use the term “Rural School”?
What are inclusive educational practices?
What elements of rural schooling and multi-grade classrooms promote inclusion?
1 Learning centres where classes and groups are composed of students of different ages. On most occasions, this refers to schools in rural areas where the demographics of a region do not allow the educational institution to organise classrooms and groupings in a graduated, age-based manner.
Coladarci, T. (2007). Improving the yield of rural education research: an editor’s Swan Song. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 22 (3). Little, A.W. (1995). Multigrade teaching: a review of research and practice. En Education Research, serial nº 12. Londres: Overseas Development Administration. Taylor, S. J.; Bogdan, R. (1986). Introducción a los métodos cualitativos de investigación. Buenos Aires: Paidós. Barberà, V. (1991). El agrupamiento de alumnos en los centros, en Apuntes de educación. Ferguson D. L.; Jeanchild, L. A. (1999): Cómo poner en práctica las decisiones curriculares. En S. Stainback and W. Stainback: Aulas inclusivas. Fierro, C. (1994) Ser maestro rural: una labor imposible. México: Secretaría de Educación Pública. Gadamer, H.G. (1994). Verdad y método II. (2ª ed.). Salamanca: Sígueme. Gadamer, H.G. (1996). Verdad y método I. (6ª ed.). Salamanca: Sígueme. Gardner, H (1994) Educación artística y desarrollo humano, Paidós, Barcelona Little, A (2006) All Together Now. Institut of Education. Universtiy of London. Elife. London Little, A.W. (2001) ‘Multigrade Teaching: towards an international research and policy agenda’, International Journal of Educational Development, 21, 6, 481-497 Stake, R., 'Case Study' in Nisbet, J., Megarry, J., and Nisbet, S. (eds) (1985), World Yearbook of Education 1985, Research, Policy and Practice, Kogan Page, London. Tonucci, Francesco (1996).Un modelo para el cambio. Cuadernos de Pedagogía. Maig 1996. Uttech, M. (2001). Imaginar, facilitar, transformar.Una pedagogía para el salón multigrado y la escuela rural. Buenos Aires, Paidós Mexicana.
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