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?

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  • desperate mum

    I met my 4 yr old’s teacher recently…damn it !he is off the charts smart at Maths…”damn it!” because my 13 yr old is regularly reduced to tears through – ok I will say it- utter neglect of her higher intellectual needs.
    I am so pleased my middle child is average to bright- the education service will serve him well!
    Please educators reading this, do not forget the emotional impact of not meeting higher level needs- no different than lowest level needs?- and do not forget to help us parents- what can we do to help our gifted children?

    • Anonymous

      Thank you so much for your reply & great apologies for not getting back before. You are so right to highlight support for parents to support the work of gifted children.

  • I think this is a really interesting way of looking at it that turns lesson planning on its head – but in a good way. As you say though, it’s about finding balance.

  • Paula

    I like this ethos. It’s one of the things that I’m most proud about in my children’s school They attend a large combined school but it boasts a creative curriculum and actively delivers on it. Every child is encouraged to find their individuality and special talent – whatever that might be – and they manage to celebrate it without ever making other children feel as if they’re underperforming. From the outside the school looks like any other on an estate but when you walk through the doors a wonderful transformation takes place. That is how inclusion should be rolled out – never a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

    • Anonymous

      From what you’ve said & written about in the past, it sounds like the sort of place that all children should expereince! Great to see you here!

    • dc3806107

      Hi Paula,
      I wish that all of the peolpe in the world felt that inclusion is not a one size fit all approach.

  • Ee

    What a great way to describe inclusion! I tried hard to get my son’s school to embrace his differences and include him in activities by changing what he was required to do; such as be a timekeeper on sports day rather than running a race, and so on… but it was a step too far. They just couldn’t get the idea that simply forcing him to be in the room with the other children and attempt to be the same was, in fact, exclusion for him. Accessing the curriculum is different for every child … and don’t forget that children with SEN can also be Gifted! Doubly exceptional… how impressive is that?!

    • Anonymous

      I was a SENCo so know about inclusion etc but I was really blown away with this definition! Many thanks for stopping by! Great to see you!

  • Very true… It’s time to get innovative with our approach to inclusion classes. I’ve written my thoughts on this sometime back in my blog: I would love to hear your views on this.

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