Action Research for Inclusive Education: Changing Places, Changing Practice, Changing Minds

By Felicity Armstrong; Michele Moore | Go to book overview
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Foreword

Len Barton

Having a desire to learn more about the perspectives and experiences of teachers in the increasingly complex, diverse and changing world of schools and post-school institutions, I approached reading this collection of insider accounts with an eager anticipation. I was not disappointed. Overall, the chapters contain a wealth of careful reflections, examples of critical incidents and significant challenges, of frustrations and uncertainties, points of risk-taking as well as new understandings and a clear indication of the fundamental importance of how these teachers viewed teaching in terms of making a difference in the lives of their pupils.

Inclusive thinking and practice are hard work and this is exemplified through insights into some of the complexities and contradictory contexts in which their teaching and research took place. It is also reflected in the serious questions that are raised in these accounts. Overall, the book is an informative, thoughtful, stimulating read. In the foreword I will identify several factors that have impressed me and which I feel are important to highlight. These are not meant to be exhaustive nor are they presented in order of priority.

An important dimension of the writing concerns the openness and honesty of these teachers. They express some of their deeply felt views about the ambiguity and contradictory nature of the national and local policy directives and contexts, the varied challenges that they had to continually face in their work, the personal and professional dilemmas and compromises that are a feature of their experiences as well as self-critical analysis of aspects of their practice. These chapters do therefore reflect the contradictions and messiness of the real world in which these teachers daily work and struggle.

Another impressive feature concerns the range and challenging nature of the questions that are raised, including those that are focused on their own personal and professional assumptions, values and understandings. These demonstrate the seriousness of their reflections with regard to identifying and challenging the varied barriers to learning and participation and establishing a series of priorities and agendas for future engagement. The

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