Inclusion allows people to capitalize the differences between them, through the appreciation that every person is unique in his way. Children must learn together, have common goals, solve different difficult situations and focus on the same common ideas. Taking into consideration these premises, the mission of inclusive educational systems is to ensure that all students of all age benefit of inclusive and fair educational opportunities. This leads to the development of the potential of every individual.
“Inclusive education happens when children with and without disabilities participate and learn together in the same classes”. This is a modern vision that gives the right to all children to a good quality education.
Research shows that when a child with disabilities attends classes alongside peers who do not have disabilities, good things happen. For a long time, children with disabilities were educated in separate classes or in separate schools. People got used to the idea that special education meant separate education. But we now know that when children are educated together, positive academic and social outcomes occur for all the children involved. We also know that simply placing children with and without disabilities together does not produce positive outcomes. Inclusive education occurs when there is ongoing advocacy, planning, support and commitment.
This commitment should be clearly defined by the school vision. The aim of a common vision is to connect all school staff around a central purpose- students’ wellbeing- and engage everyone to achieve it through an interdependent relationship. A school vision aims to ensure that students reach their full potential, having high expectations and effective programs. Therefore, students are encouraged to reach higher and higher which motivates them to become better members of the society.
School plays a major role in students’ future development. It must create successful opportunities for each and every student. For this purpose, all efforts should be made. Teachers must believe in the power of ideas to change attitudes. They must show joy for teaching. This way students will become opened to initiative and get involved in different activities.
School must come with new methodological approaches, interdisciplinary projects, students exchanges among others. Collaborative engaging atmosphere leads to open school culture and that creates initiative.
Parents as well must be involved. The best outcomes occur when parents of children with disabilities or not and teachers work together. Effective partnerships happen when there is collaboration, communication and, most of all, TRUST between parents and professionals. Hence, students feel safer, protected and ready to be involved.
“All parents want their children to be accepted by their peers, have friends and lead regular lives. Inclusive settings can make this vision a reality for many children. When they attend classes that reflect the similarities and differences of people in the real world, they learn to appreciate diversity”.
Schools are important places for children to develop friendships and learn social skills. Children with and without disabilities learn with and from each other in inclusive classes.” Whether children are separated based on race, ability, or any other characteristic, a separate education is not an equal education. Research shows that typical children and children with disabilities learn as much or more in inclusive classes”.
Because the philosophy of inclusive education is aimed at helping all children learn, everyone in the class benefits. Children learn at their own pace and style within a nurturing learning environment.
The mentioned above theory about inclusive education adapts quite well to the school I teach in. The fact is that we have a large category of students, from ordinary children with both parents at home to single parent children, orphanage children, children left by parents and raised by grandparents and disabled children. This situation is not as delicate as it looks like, as both teachers and students are highly involved in the process of learning and interaction. Teachers always cooperate in our school to find solutions to different problems. They get involved in students’ activities and encourage them to express their feelings and ask for help whenever they need. We motivate our students to share moments together, to create common work, to have initiative, to get involved in activities and ask questions. We have a quite significant number of disabled students, but they are always helped by their mates and treated as equal. Parents are involved as well. However, there are parents to whom school is not so important and for this reason they don’t pay too much attention to their children’s education. They simply don’t care if their child comes to school or not. For this reason the school dropout is the problem we are facing with. So, the whole school staff is involved in solving this very delicate issue. And we hope that, with the aid of the inclusive education, we’ll succeed.
Leslie Soodak, Ph.D.Pace University and Elisabeth Erwin, Ed.D.City University of New York- Queens College from PBS.org “Inclusive Communication”