Several paths may lead to our becoming our own worst enemy: (a) drawing especially clear and extreme lines, (b) neglecting or rejecting matters of judgment, (c) ignoring or downplaying the economic consequences of policy, (d) abjuring rationality and flirting with irrationality, (e) offering simple solutions to complex problems, (f) claiming moral superiority while ignoring competing moral and ethical principles, (g) demonizing dissenting views, (h) losing focus on what is most important, and (i) ignoring history. The full inclusion movement ignores these ways of being counterproductive in the pursuit of goals that are rigidly ideological. A counterproductive argument of the full inclusion movement is the ideology that the general education classroom must be made the only place where effective special education can be provided and that that place must the same for all students, including all those with disabilities. This makes place rather than appropriate education the most important issue. Partial inclusion, tempered by the realities of teaching and learning, is advisable to avoid catastrophic loss of a policy of inclusion of many students with disabilities in general education. Science, reason, and attention to history are better guides than are romanticism or insistence on a “pure” ideology free of nuance.
This chapter examines the nature of the dyslexia debate and its implications for the provision of inclusive education. While it might seem that a dyslexia industry that seeks to identify, assess, and intervene with struggling readers would help to ensure sound inclusive practice, in reality this unwittingly undermines the development and operation of inclusion. This chapter examines the many different ways that dyslexia is understood and operationalised, outlines key cognitive processes and explanatory causal theories, considers the role of intelligence, and concludes by demonstrating why categorical division between identified dyslexic and other poor readers is not scientifically meaningful. While dyslexia identification and resourcing may benefit those so labelled, large numbers of other struggling readers, disproportionately socially and economically disadvantaged, are often left without the support they also require. It is argued that a response to intervention model is a more effective approach to reading disability. This process identifies, and intervenes with, all struggling readers as early as possible. The nature and extent of resourcing are based upon the child’s response to additional educational instruction, rather than to a scientifically questionable diagnostic category. Such an approach, when operated effectively, targets the needs of everyone who struggles to learn to read and, thus, truly reflects an inclusive approach.
In this chapter Anderson and Boyle provide a critical discussion on the notion of ‘good’ education by analysing how neo-liberalism has impacted education. Gert Biesta’s three-domain model of educational purpose guides their endeavour to disentangle the complexities of what it means to provide ‘good’ education that meets the needs of dynamic and diverse groups of students. They contend that current educational discourse evident in school policies, with its neo-liberal focus on an effective instruction, places a strong emphasis on evidence and practices to bring about measurable outcomes that produce winners and losers; a concept that is problematic as it detracts attention from questions such as “what are students learning?” and “why are they learning?” and “who are they learning it from?” These questions are integral to any interrogation of a socially just and ‘good’ education. The authors conclude that current debates around the construct of inclusive education afford an opportunity to ask the questions that need to be asked, and to challenge the neo-liberal agenda that has driven much of the educational reform of the past decade. To do so could shift the momentum towards fairness and equity in education.
This chapter seeks to examine the work of school leaders in leading a difference-friendly school where assimilation to majority or dominant cultural norms is no longer the price of equal respect and recognition. A key focus here is an explication of the manner in which difference is understood and the manner in which this understanding is incorporated into the way we teach, the way we assess, the way we lead schools. In order to move towards a more inclusive school system, the chapter argues, that leaders need to take on board the multiplicative manifestations of the marginalization that are present for many groups of students. With this as a core driver of reform it is possible to begin to create schools that can avoid the current reproduced and sedimented patterns of system failure for some groups of students. Achieving an inclusive school system requires a radical shift in how we conceptualise schools and how we frame and develop leadership in these schools. Nurturing this type of leadership requires a move away from more normative models of leadership development because there are no easy answers or fool proof recipes. What is required is an intellectual engagement with a much more complex set of discourses and perspectives that reflect a recognition of a view of school leadership that is complex to its core. This is precisely because the core task of the formation of children and young people needs to be the defining imperative for all leadership practice in schools.
Recognising the importance of teacher attitudes to inclusion is crucial for understanding the effectiveness of inclusive education in the school and/or community. It has been reported that teachers who are more positive to inclusion have more controlled learning environments compared to teachers with more negative attitudes to inclusion. The role of teachers is understated in many studies that have investigated inclusion and student experiences. It is important to understand the vital roles of teachers in fostering inclusive classrooms, and while inclusion in schools begins with the teachers, it is imperative that teachers themselves are supported by the education system through access to appropriate resources, and the provision of supportive leadership and effective policy.
This chapter provides a provocative discussion on what constitutes ‘good’ education in an era of competition and inequity. Drawing from philosophers (such as Plato and R. S. Peters) and educational theorists (such as Dewey, Freire, and Apple), Anderson and Boyle pose challenging questions which invite the reader to rethink the value and purpose of education, and its ability to be an agent of social change. Within the current socio-political zeitgeist, much responsibility for flattening the growing inequity curve is placed at the feet of schools, yet what happens within the confines of these institutions can only reflect what is taking place within the societies in which they operate. The authors explore the challenges this presents to schools and systems, as policy makers and educators manage the paradox of expectation; how to reduce inequality through education in a world of growing inequality. Most importantly, the authors appeal for a reconsideration of the purpose of schooling, and for a re-engagement with the debate about what ‘good’ education should look like in today’s diverse and everchanging world.
This chapter draws on the background thinking and research which has informed a project that evaluated an additional literacy teaching programme designed for 7–8-year-old children who are struggling to learn to read, the Integrated Group Reading (IGR) programme. The chapter examines the principles, theory and research underlying IGR, and discusses to what extent IGR is an inclusive approach to wave 2 early reading teaching; whether IGR teachers accepted responsibility for teaching all pupils; in what way can a class management model involve the work of TAs; and, whether the IGR group having teaching in usual lesson time affected the way children and parents felt about visibility in a ‘struggling readers’ group. It is concluded that the issues raised by an IGR type approach will continue to challenge future theory and practice about general and additional teaching in ways that will have a bearing on the future of inclusive teaching.
In this chapter a discussion about the critical role peers can play in the positive experiences of learners with autism in inclusive educational contexts is presented. The authors interrogate the research in this field and argue that poor peer relationships can have significant negative consequences for students with autism, resulting in social isolation, loneliness and serious cases of bullying. Autism awareness peer activities, school-wide anti-bullying programs, peer-mediated strategies, and teachers’ understanding of autism are unpacked and presented as methods that, when combined, can lead to rewarding peer relationships, which in turn can generate genuinely positive social and academic outcomes for all students, including learners with autism.