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In education an inclusive classroom is a class with a mix of students of both disabled and non-disabled. The disabled are people who have a physical, mental, or other disability. A disability is any condition that interferes with someone's ability to perform everyday tasks. Disabilities include such conditions as blindness, poor vision, speech and hearing impairments, loss of the use of arms or legs, painful conditions such as arthritis that make it hard to get about, learning differences such as a difficulty in recognizing letters and words, mental retardation, and diseases of many kinds. The phrase inclusive classroom refers to a class, which practices inclusive education.
An inclusive education refers to schools, centers of learning and educational systems that no longer provide "regular education" and "special education" but provide a service which includes every student, no matter what he or she needs at the time. In other words, it is open to all students, and that ensure that all students learn and participate. However, the concept of an inclusive education is not universally accepted. For this to happen, teachers, schools and systems may need to change so that they can better accommodate the diversity of needs that pupils have and that they are included in all aspects of school-life. It also means identifying any barriers within and around the school that hinder learning and participation, and reducing or removing these barriers. Inclusive education is a process of enabling all students, including previously excluded groups, to learn and participate effectively within mainstream school systems. Placing excluded students within a mainstream setting does not of itself achieve inclusion. Inclusive education must be underpinned by key principles and practices:
- Every student has an inherent right to education on basis of equality of opportunity
- No student is excluded from, or discriminated within education on grounds of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, disability, birth, poverty or other status
- All students can learn and benefit from education
- Schools adapt to the needs of students, rather than students adapting to the needs of the school
- The student’s views are listened to and taken seriously
- Individual differences between students are a source of richness and diversity, and not a problem
- The diversity of needs and pace of development of students are addressed through a wide and flexible range of responses
The practice of developing inclusive schools involves:
- Understanding inclusion as a continuing process, not a one-time event
- Strengthening and sustaining the participation of students, teachers, parents and community members in the work of the school
- Restructuring the cultures, policies and practices in schools to respond to the diversity of pupils within their locality. Inclusive settings focus on identifying and then reducing the barriers to learning and participation, rather than on what is ‘special’ about the individual student or group of students, and targeting services to address the ‘problem’
- Providing an accessible curriculum, appropriate training programs for teachers, and for all students, the provision of fully accessible information, environments and support
- Identifying and providing support for staff as well as students
It is general practice that students in an inclusive classroom are with their chronological age-mates. Also, to encourage a sense of belonging, emphasis is placed on the value of friendships. Teachers often nurture a relationship between a student with special needs and a peer without need. Another common practice is the assignment of a buddy to accompany a student with special needs at all times (for example in the cafeteria, on the playground, on the bus and so on).
In principle, several factors can determine the success of inclusive classrooms:
- Family-school partnerships
- Collaboration between general and special educators
- Well-constructed Individualized Education Program plans
- Team planning and communication
- Integrated service delivery
- Ongoing training and staff development
Teachers use a number of techniques to help build classroom communities:
- Games designed to build community
- Involving students in solving problems
- Songs and books that teach community
- Openly dealing with individual differences
- Assigning classroom jobs that build community
- Teaching students to look for ways to help each other
- Utilizing physical therapy equipment such as standing frames, so students who typically use wheelchairs can stand when the other students are standing and more actively participate in activities
Inclusive education has many benefits for the students. Instructional time with non-disabled peers helps the learners to learn strategies taught by the teacher. Teachers bring in different ways to teach a lesson for disabled students and non-disabled students. All of the students in the classroom benefit from this. The students can now learn from the lesson how to help each other. Socialization in the school allows the students to learn communication skills and interaction skills from each other. Students can build friendships from these interactions. The students can also learn about hobbies from each other. A friendship in school is important for the development of learning. When a student has a friend the student can relate to a member of the classroom. Students’ being able to relate to each other gives them a better learning environment. Involving non-disabled peers with disabled peers gives the students a positive attitude towards each other. The students are the next generation to be in the workforce; the time in the classroom with the disabled and non-disabled peers will allow them to communicate in the real world someday. Disabled students are included in all aspects of school-life. For example, homeroom, specials such as art and gym, lunch, recess, and assemblies. Disabled students involved in these classrooms will give them the time they need to participate in activities with their non-disabled peers. Awareness should be taught to students that will be in the classroom with the disabled peers. The teacher can do a puppet show, show a movie, or have the student talk to the class. The teacher could also read a book to help the student describe his or her disability. The class can ask questions about what they learned and what they want to know. This will help when the students are together in the classroom. Positive modeling is important for the students in the classroom. Positive modeling is the teacher showing a good example towards both disabled and non-disabled students this will help the students to get along more.
Studies have found that an inclusive education show that students have higher academic achievement, higher self-esteem, a greater probability of attending college, and better physical health. They are more likely to graduate and find employment. In fact, graduation rates of students with special needs increased by 14% from 1984 to 1997 (National Research Center on Learning Disabilities, 2005). Because they are not labeled, students do not feel the hopelessness that hinders their potential.
Inclusive education promotes diversity and acceptance. It also allows opportunity for all students to advance. For the students with special needs, they are motivated through competition to improve. The general education students have the ability to rise up to leadership roles.
Source: Teaching Students with Severe Disabilities third edition by: David L. Westling and Lise Fox
Opponents of inclusive classroom believe that individual differences will slow the progress of normal students. Therefore, this will create problems for general education teachers. Some argue that inclusive classrooms are not a cost-effective response when compared to cheaper or more effective interventions, such as special education. They argue that special education helps "fix" the special needs students by providing individualized and personalized instruction to meet their unique needs. This is to help students with special needs adjust as quickly as possible to the mainstream of the school and community. Proponents counter that students with special needs are not fully into the mainstream of student life because they are secluded to special education.
- "Children who learn together, live together"
- "There are many ways to do something"
- "All means all" Forest & Pearpoint
- "If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities and so we weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place" Margaret Mead
- Anti-racist mathematics
- Inclusion (education)
- Post Secondary Transition For High School Students with Disabilities
- Mara Sapon-Shevin
- Inclusive Education:
Ainscow M., Booth T. (2003) The Index for Inclusion: Developing Learning & Participation in Schools. Bristol: Center for Studies in Inclusive Education
- Elementary programming for inclusive classrooms
- Social development: Promoting Social Development in the Inclusive Classroom
- M. Mastropieri, Thomas E. Scruggs. The Inclusive Classroom: Strategies for Effective Instruction
- Mary Beth Doyle. The Paraprofessional's Guide to the Inclusive Classroom
- Conrad M., & Whitaker T. (1997). Inclusion and the law: A principal’s proactive approach. The Clearing House
- Scheyer et al. (1996). The Inclusive Classroom Teacher Created Materials, Inc. The Inclusive Classroom
- [http://journals.aol.com/lstengle/GaskinClassMember/Gaskin Class Member A blog written by the mother of a class member in a statewide lawsuit regarding inclusion in education in Pennsylvania.
- Kids Together, Inc. An All-volunteer non-profit 501(c)3 that promotes inclusive communities where all people belongs. Tons of information, perspectives and links to resources for creating inclusion are available, along with a monthly newsletter, and national listserv dedicated only to inclusive education.
- **New Resource** Inclusive Education in Primary Schools: supporting students with social, emotional and behavioral difficulties by Karen Knamiller and Mary Duffy, with Jayne Allan, Louise Hill, and Susie Warden published by Barnardos  This resource is full of practical techniques helping in mainstream teachers and staff to develop new skills and confidence to support students with additional needs.
References & BibliographyEdit
- nl:Inclusief onderwijs
- pt:Educação inclusiva
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