From Inclusive Education to Inclusive Diversity: towards an inclusive model of education that is inherently respectful of diversity
Thomas Tajo (Dec. 2021)
For the last few decades, the call was to move children with disabilities away from special schools and integrate them into regular classrooms. This was a part of a larger social movement to end the social segregation of people with disabilities, to end their isolation from mainstream society. However, the move today is receiving pushbacks from many areas resulting from the model of providing inclusive education that was predicated on ensuring inclusive education primarily through the model of relying on training special educators and support from disability organisations.
The move towards inclusive education predicated on the model that was reliant on training special educators, and support from disability organisations is facing its biggest challenge today:
1. From a shortage of special education teachers simply for the reason that there are not enough numbers of trained special educators around the world.
2. There are not enough numbers of organisations with adequate numbers of staff to assist children with disabilities in different parts of the world, to support individuals and schools located in small towns and remote rural areas.
As a consequence, children with disabilities without adequate support, from lack of knowledge and skills on the part of regular teachers, face difficulties succeeding in inclusive classrooms. They often face exclusion from daily learning activities including bullying from fellow students and even from the teachers themselves. Thus, the experience of inclusive education has become traumatic for many of our children with disabilities. The pushback has reached the point that many regular schools blatantly refuse to accept children with disabilities.
3. Pushback to Inclusive Education is also coming from many disability organisations, families and educators of disabled people, and disabled people themselves. That is informed by a traditional conception of disability. A model which has a closed view of disability and a narrow conception of the capacities of disabled people. A model of thought that is not upgraded to reflect the plasticity of human capacity that is supported by the latest scientific findings.
This has come to prevent many children and adults with disabilities from exploring and uncovering the potential that may be inherent to them. To acquire alternate skills and abilities traditionally not associated with them, and to develop innovative strategies not sanctioned by traditional pedagogies and disability organisations, to cope with constantly evolving challenges in everyday life.
Thus, we propose a different model of inclusive education [Inclusive Diversity] that is predicated on a different model of inclusion. A model that is not primarily reliant on training special education teachers and support from disability organisations. We propose a model of inclusive education that is inherently inclusive. A model that is inherently accessible and respectful of diversity. A model that does away with the lack of support stemming from a shortage of trained special educators and disability organisations.
We propose to advocate for a new model of Inclusive Education which involves:
1. A model that reflects an open view of human capacity. A model that is supported by the latest scientific findings from the fields of evolutionary biology, epigenetics, and neuroscience. Which affirms that the capacities of biological systems are plastic. Including the capacities of human beings.
2. A model that would guarantee freedom and the right of every individual to explore and uncover diverse potential inherent to them. To realise diverse modes of being, functioning, and relating. To advocate to pass international policies to make it mandatory for every educational institution with teacher training degrees include subject/subjects on inclusive diversity:
(i) To equip all the teacher’s basic knowledge and skills not only to work with children with diverse disabilities or abilities.
(ii) But to equip every teacher with knowledge and develop the skills to work with children from different racial, cultural, gender, and sexual orientation.
(iii) Especially teachers of physical education like sports and games and plays should be equipped with the knowledge and skills to design activities to be accessible to all to meet the physical needs of children of diverse abilities.
Thus, we propose a new strategy for inclusive education that is inherently inclusive. That is founded on the latest scientific findings on the open capacities of human beings. A model that engenders respect for people with diverse abilities and people from different backgrounds. A sustainable model of inclusive education that is predicated to prevent the crystallisation of biases and prejudices early in life. Which is essential to build futures with open cultures and inclusive societies.