From Category-Based Approach to Inclusive Approach? Category-Based Resistances, Renaissance and Expansion

Time Thursday, 06/Sep/2018: 17:15pm - 18:45pm
Location D1.03
Speakers Dario Ianes; Lucio Cottini; Justin J. J. Powell; Jonathan Rix; Peter Imray; Silvia Dell'Anna
Chair Lucio Cottini

Since its conceptualization, inclusion has been strongly associated with concepts of rights, participation and equal opportunities for all. Its commitment towards universality, respect and valorization of human diversity and plurality of identities and functionings seems to be incompatible with a category-based approach.

On the one hand inclusive approach is constructed on a social model disability, striving for contextual and cultural change, instead of individual adaptation or accomodation (Booth & Ainscow, 2014). On the other hand, a deficit-oriented category-based approach, which focuses on the individual, his or her deficits, weaknesses and challenges does not know any crisis and is undergoing a sort of renaissance in inclusive school systems (Tomlinson, 2012).

European policies make a clear effort to distance the definition of inclusion and its implementation from a category-based model, when discussing theoretical issues such as the referring anthropological model or operative aspects, as for example models for financing, assessment and identification in inclusive school systems (e.g. EADSNE, 2009, 2014, 2016).

Despite those premises, the abandonment of a dichotomical division (normal/different, general/special, able/disable, etc.) in favour of neutral references to diversity seems to be far from the reality of implementation of inclusive education (Powell, 2014; Tomlinson, 2015).

The issues and the bias related to categorization in inclusive school systems remain challenging to be solved, as inclusion is expected to improve school contexts to guarantee presence, participation and achievement to all students but, at the same time, to constantly place emphasis on individuals and groups at risk of marginalisation, exclusion and underachievement (IBE-UNESCO, 2016).

This session focuses on the worldwide phenomenon of renaissance and expansion of a category-based model within a supposed inclusive approach to education. It tries to identify the causes of this coexistence in inclusive school systems between an idealistic inclusive approach described by international and European policies and an operative category-based approach observed in the process of implementation.

Discussants will reflect upon the barriers to the process of inclusion related to categories as well as consider the utility of categories in relation to the respect of rights of all individuals and groups, especially the rights of people with disabilities or with learning difficulties, as well as people belonging to minority groups or individuals in a situation of socio-economic or cultural disadvantage.

The underlying assumption regarding categories considers not only the need to give specific attention and protection of those at risk, but also the relating interests of those whose entitlement and advantages derive from categories themselves.

The resistances to the abandonment of a category based approach will be deconstructed and discussed, in particular the role played by stakeholders, such as individuals and groups that could have interests in preserving a category-based system (e.g. people with disabilities, families of people with disabilities, minority groups, etc.; professionals involved in processes of category identification, assessment, support and intervention; scholars engaging in research and knowledge construction regarding specific categories; policy makers defining previously mentioned processes related to categories, etc.).

The presenters’ contribute should provide different insights and positionings, sheding light on the debate regarding the usefulness and risks of old and new categories and the relation between categories and the rights of individual or minority at risks.

Upcoming ECERs

ECER'19, Hamburg
ECER'20, Glasgow
ERC'21, Geneva
ECER'21, Geneva
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