Inclusion equals difference!
‘Inclusion is about treating everyone differently and not treating them the same.’
This quote came from an in-set day recently and I think it is amazing! It turns the whole focus of inclusion upside down. Traditionally, inclusion was all about doing something extra to help children fit in and not be different. Being different is often regarded as something to avoid, something educators must strive to dispel.
In a moving article about her gifted children JenWalshaw questions whether children should all be the same. Schools pride themselves in saying that each child is unique but then seem to go out of their way to make them all the same. Parents have commented that it is this contradiction that can bring them into conflict with school.
Obviously, within a classroom with 30 children, delivering ‘something different’ for each will be a management nightmare. However, it may be that it is the mind-set that sees all children as the same that needs changing. That is in no-way meant as a criticism of teachers. They are in a system that tests routinely for children to be at a ‘standard level’. Have we misunderstood that it is about equality of opportunity not ‘all the same’?
If children have special needs, schools are expected to provide additional resources to enable them to reach the same levels as their peers. It is interesting that the same robust requirement is often missing when it comes to our gifted and talented youngsters. Is that because it makes them different?
In my recent post about inequality, I stressed how differences make for bullying in our society. Is that partly due to this emphasis on standardisation? How easy is it to embrace difference? Should schools set out with that intention? Have we misunderstood that it is about equality of opportunity not ‘all the same’
Within the learning environment, I think they must if we are to take full advantage of our young people’s talents. It means that the curriculum has to be presented in a creative way that appeals to the many different learning styles in our classes. How much time is spent, I wonder, during teacher training on these differences? I suspect not as much as explaining about the various levels children should reach by certain times!
What are your views?