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Education for all – inclusion of all

July 21, 2012

I just read a post called ‘$pecial Education’ at the following blog.

I am inspired to write my own post about the topic of the cost of ‘special education’ (in part because I couldn’t figure out how to comment on William’s blog).

I wish that education budgets didn’t figure out how much it costs to educate the children who can ‘get through’ the regular system and then add the costs to include children who who have to struggle to (or can not) learn and participate in the regular system. I wish they would look at the population in a school district and say we want ALL the children to learn about this. In order to make that possible we need to provide this. We know that they won’t all learn the same things about these topics or concepts. That is actually a good thing. As a group they will be able to learn and create in a wide variety of ways. The students will actually enhance each others’ learning and experience.

I believe that it is better for all children to learn with all children in their community. Just as it is better for all adults – all people – to interact with all the members of our community. We need to know each others’ histories and perspectives. As William implied in his blog post, we all need to know the history of how disabled people have been oppressed in the world, in our country, in our community. This is so clear to me as I am currently learning more about the history of residential schools and other colonialism experiences of Aboriginal people in Canada. I went to elementary school with boys and girls that lived in a residence but were bussed to my inner city school. (Past at least 2 or 3 schools in more affluent neighbourhoods but that is a post for another day.) I knew nothing of the implications of that until 30 years later.

There is no need for ‘special education’. There is a huge need for ‘education for all’. All teachers need to be taught how to include all students in their classrooms. They do not have to be experts on diagnoses. They have to be experts at teaching and learning with their students. I’m not denying that this is hard. But I think it is hard because the whole education system is not set up for all children. But we can’t throw up our arms and say, we can’t do anything until the system is fixed. I say that because I have done that before. I am an occupational therapist and I left a job once because I didn’t want to try to work within the school system anymore. William’s post has reminded me that I can’t do that. I can’t give up on kids just because I want to give up on the system.

OK, this post is long enough. My next one will hopefully be a more accessible one. Thanks for reading. What do you think about my thoughts (and yes mini-rant)?  Sheila

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