Inclusive Education: International Voices on Disability and Justice

Inclusive Education: International Voices on Disability and Justice

Inclusive Education: International Voices on Disability and Justice

Inclusive Education: International Voices on Disability and Justice

Synopsis

This book draws on the experiences of the full circle of people involved in and affected by exclusion: the voices of an excluded child, the parents of excluded children, the voices of teachers, remaining pupils and researchers. The contributors, and issues raised, are international, giving the reader everything necessary for considering concepts and practices across countries and cultures, and highlighting ways in which schools might bring down the barriers to participation and learning.

Excerpt

Deep into this text Linda Ware, reporting on her research with parents of disabled students experience of inclusion and exclusion, declares:

‘Among these parents, inclusion was fraught with as much complexity as when it is discussed among educators. Curriculum considerations were core to the debate, the preservation of services as hard-won entitlement, and the unyielding issue of interrupting authority in a functionalist organisation.’

As Keith Ballard makes clear in his introduction to this collection, inclusion is variously understood and theorised. Indeed, I live in the Australian State of Western Australia where the Minister for Education made great fanfare of that State Education Department’s inclusion programme. The programme consists of a bold experiment of including ten children with intellectual disabilities in regular schools. I am extremely uncomfortable with referring to such policy as inclusive education, given its incremental and conditional quality. What is also clear is the editor’s signalling that inclusion and, of course, exclusion is not a realm for the isolated professional consideration of expert educators who can then profess ways ahead based on new models of special educational delivery in new settings. Inclusive education is intensely political. It is about who is in and who is out, about which students are in the educational mainstream and who is consigned to the status of ‘others’.

This collection of chapters has its origins in an initiative of the Special Needs Research Centre at Newcastle University in England. Alan Dyson, Catherine Clark and David Skidmore invited a group of researchers from the United Kingdom, North America, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand and Australia to spend an uninterrupted few days (quite a luxury for some of us) discussing each others’ position papers on the issue of inclusive education. The gathering has travelled since that time. As a participant in two of the meetings it impresses me in its provocation. Participants frame inclusive education within their different worlds of experience—cultural, professional and personal. The diversity of positions is manifest within these chapters.

With ‘voice’ as the organizing theme, we move from traditional research approaches and reportage of teachers’ decision-making processes, to the politics of advocacy and the position of parents in processes of exclusion and inclusion. ‘Partisan’ research surfaces in the interplay between the author as researcher—parent. Both chapters on parents’ voices introduce us, albeit through different

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