Inclusion works because it is built on the premise that all children can learn. As a class teacher in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s not all the children I taught, left school and engaged in successful careers or found their truth path.
This made me realise that as passionate as I was and am about education if you believe it exists in a vacuum then you are wrong! What must happen is that schools ( in South Africa) where we follow a national curriculum – must be places where all children are welcomed and encouraged to come and learn; and play ; and learn about other children who are like them and those who are completely different!
Inclusion had a name in South Africa years ago / we called it integration and it was based on the principle that children of different races should and could learn together! This was such a important step near the end of Apartheid in the 1990’s and twenty years later some schools are still just trying to integrate based on previous racial classifications! Can I challenge you to find out more about inclusion and consider that all children and adults have special needs- some have more specific needs at different times that require more skills, expertise and guidance… But at other times those needs can be met through love, care, tolerance and acknowledging that now is the time- today, to learn more about those who you think learn differently! You will be surprised by what you find. All children have a right to a quality education and we should be working far harder to include and figure out how it can be done than to exclude! Exclusion means we are saying we don’t care, we don’t think we can do it!
Have the courage to think about families of children with very specific needs it seems reasonable that they would want their children to have an opportunity to learn to read, write, do mathematics and acquire the social skills they need to be contributing, functioning members of society! It is mostly about an attitude change and the will to do something different! There are many resources online, books to learn from, articles with up to date research and other schools walking the journey of inclusion that will share ideas. There is no ‘one’ textbook that provides you with all the best ways of teaching and reaching children! Children are actually the best guides and if we give them the opportunity they will show us how – when we say yes to inclusion. If we ask children if we can watch how they learn – we will become better at teaching them the way they learn best! This is a principle of inclusion that changes lives- try it!