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Including all?

Including all in our classrooms can be challenging.

In Week 2 we explored some of the barriers to education that exist. In Week 3 we are going to focus on what we might do in classrooms as we try to support all learners.

As part of this we will think about pedagogy. Pedagogy is the method and practice of teaching. In an article called Exploring inclusive pedagogy in the British Educational Research Journal (37:5, 813-828) Florian and Black-Hawkins (2011) attempt to address complex issues related to the inclusive pedagogical approach. The authors argue that teaching is influenced by personal attitudes and professional values - think back to our discussions about that in Week 2, Step 2.7. Those who hold deterministic beliefs about ability will incorporate different teaching methods from those who value a more humanistic and inclusive approach to learners and learning.

According to Florian and Black-Hawkins (2011) the term ‘inclusion’ is problematic to certain degree as it is open to a multitude of interpretations. One possible understanding of the concept within an educational setting relates to the practice where children with disabilities are incorporated into mainstream schools (rather than being placed in a specialist provision). Other explanations focus on responding to diversity in the classroom by differentiating resources for those who are different (for example those who experience learning difficulties). In Week 1 we thought about how international legislation has been interpreted in different ways in different places so it is perhaps not surprising that inclusive practice looks different in different places.

Florian and Black-Hawkins (2011) argue that there is a need to focus on what is to be learned within the classroom community without treating some learners as different. Rich and challenging learning opportunities should be made available for everyone. To do so, it is important to reflect on own daily practice and teaching methods in the light of contemporary research and academic knowledge.

Dr Jenny Spratt was part of the Inclusive Practice Project at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. The project wanted to “develop new approaches to training ALL teachers so they have a greater awareness and understanding of the educational and social problems/issues that can affect children’s learning and have developed strategies they can use to support and deal with such difficulties”. In her article she shares some fundamental principles about inclusive pedagogy. She suggests that:

Inclusive pedagogy rejects:

  • the notion that children have a fixed ‘ability’
  • that a child’s current learning is can be used to predict future ‘potential’
  • that intelligence can be defined in terms of test based on logical / mathematical / reasoning skills

Instead Inclusive pedagogy believes that every:

  • child’s capacity to learn is changeable
  • What teachers choose to do (or not to do) in the present can alter a child’s learning capacity for the future
  • Nothing is neutral

This week we will focus on what teachers choose to do in the classroom.

What are the challenges for those teachers who use or might want to use inclusive pedagogy in their classroom?

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This article is from the free online course:

The Right to Education: Breaking Down the Barriers

University of Glasgow