Revealing the Traps of Inclusive School Systems

Time Thursday, 06/Sep/2018: 15:30 - 17:00
Location E2.23
Speakers Kari Nes; Cristina Devecchi; Simona D'Alessio; Anna Debè; Amalia Rizzo
Chair Dario Ianes

This session addresses some important and controversial issues related to the implementation of school inclusion, starting from the Italian experience.

Italy, with its long tradition of ‘integrazione’ and its commitment towards inclusive education, constitutes an interesting example and a starting point to engage in dialogue other countries and their experiences, such as Norway and England. Taking into account common unsolved challenges, this session offers an opportunity for broader reflection on inclusion and its “traps”.

Anna Debè will make an historical introduction about Italian tradition in Inclusive Education.

In Italy special schools developed in the Nineteenth century in favor of deaf-mutes, blind and rachitic children. At the dawn of the Twentieth century the educational attention was expanded to the intellectually impaired, with the purpose of integrating them into society, mainly through a professional training. In the Seventies, the criticism of prominent scholars – such as Basaglia – towards the forms of forced institutionalization led to the closure of special schools (1977).

This policy gave to all pupils with disabilities the right to participate in mainstream education, transforming Italian school system in a system for all, where individual needs had to be accomodated through a reciprocal adaptation between individuals with disabilities and institutions (Canevaro, 1983).

Only recently Italian school system substituted the traditional concept of ‘integrazione’ with the international one of ‘inclusion’, promulgating new decrees, guidelines and laws that take into account not only the needs of pupils with disabilities but also those of students with learning disabilities, socio-economic or cultural disadvantage (e.g. Law 170/2011; Circolare Ministeriale n° 8, 6/03/2013).

The second presentation by Dario Ianes will discuss some research findings regarding inclusion in Italy and introduce some complex and unclear phenomena, such as categorization and medicalization, micro-exclusions, delegation of responsabilities, dissatisfaction of parents and association of people with disabilities, competences for effective individualization and inclusion (e.g. Associazione TreeLLLe, Caritas Italiana e Fondazione Agnelli, 2011; D’Alessio, 2011; Demo, 2014; Ianes, Demo, & Zambotti, 2013).

The third contributor, Kari Nes, will connect the Italian discourse about inclusion and its challenges with Norwegian experience, underlining similarities even if under different circumstances, such as phenomena of micro-exclusions and delegation of responsibilities involving support teachers, (Nes, Demo, & Ianes, 2017).

Cristina Devecchi, with her deep knowledge and experience of both Italian and English school systems, will discuss other similarities, as for example those regarding the role of support teacher and collaboration between different professionals in the school context (Devecchi, et al., 2012).

Amalia Rizzo will focus on Inclusive music, that allows to face at a working level the wide range of abilities among pupils promoting a teaching based on interdisciplinarity and collaboration between teachers. Consistent with the bio-psycho-social model of "human functioning" proposed in the ICF-CY, Inclusive music uses evidence-based teaching strategies to remove barriers from learning and participation of students with special educational needs and to promote their formative success (Chiappetta Cajola & Rizzo, 2016; Darrow 2009).

Finally, the last presentation will try to connect different national experiences and their similar issues.

Simona D’Alessio with her professional experience at the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education and her critical approach associated with Disability Studies movement, could give meaning and interpretation to the previously discussed shortcomings of inclusive school systems.

At the end of all individual presentations, all contributors will have the opportunity to further engage with the two main open questions: What meaning and interpretation can we give to these phenomena? What can we learn from these shortcomings?

The session could offer a broader understanding of European challenges towards inclusive education and promote new shared research perspectives to improve the quality of inclusive school systems.

Upcoming ECERs

ECER'23, Glasgow
ECER'24, Nicosia
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