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

By Felicity Armstrong; Michele Moore | Go to book overview

Chapter 10

Challenging behaviour - ours, not theirs

Karen Dunn

Len Barton's opening remarks in the foreword to this book, that inclusive thinking and practice are hard work, is evidenced as the case throughout all the chapters which follow it. As an academic, working in the relatively - and I stress relatively - informal atmosphere of a university, I am brought back sharply, in reading the chapters of this book, to the hectic pace of a teacher's life in school or college. Tangible through the research struggles of the pages I have just finished reading are the sounds of the corridors I remember from my own teaching career, the bells ringing, the pushing, the armfuls of books being carted from one temporary classroom to the next, the dinner duties. When Simpson writing about the constraints on her research practice in Chapter 5 notes: 'Finding the time for an observation is extremely difficult. Each time this has been arranged, Michael is absent, has absconded, a supply teacher is taking the lesson or I have been put on a cover rota, ' it all comes back to me - with frightening clarity - and I am moved, before making any other comment about the value of the contributions in this collection, to stand back and applaud - just as Joe's classmates did in Kathy Charles's beautifully articulated study, on a tremendously difficult job well done!

The 'hard work' of undertaking research in difficult circumstances to bring about change in organisations, or processes to advance an agenda for inclusion, requires all of the qualities which Barton describes in the foreword. Openness and honesty, passion and commitment - yes, all these - and also, and in my view, for teachers, more than this. Teaching today is no joke, and inclusion in school settings, for all the political rhetoric, remains the cause of a good deal of anxiety with the vast majority of teachers, parents and often, it seems, children and young people too. To work to advance an agenda for inclusion, in the target-driven and achievement-oriented market place that education has become, requires teachers to have high expectations of their colleagues and those they teach. It requires them to 'see' that things can be better and to trust that those around them - despite much evidence to the contrary - with a bit of help from the social model, with its emphasis on breaking down the barriers which create exclusion, can and will change their practice and improve their game.

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