Together We Learn Better: Inclusive Schools Benefit All Children

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What do we mean by Inclusion??

Inclusion means change!! We believe both inclusion and change are inevitable. Whether we choose to grow with and from these changes is a choice. The real topic (seldom stated) is Fear of Change! Many people in education and human services are afraid of confronting the change. Afraid of new responsibilities. Afraid of what they don't understand and these words come out as: "But, we don't have enough money! But, we haven't been trained to take care of those! Why should we support Inclusion?”

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires that children with disabilities be educated “to the maximum extent appropriate in the least restrictive environment” (“Mainstreaming”). “the least restrictive environment” is the regular education classroom. Inclusion is the practice of educating a special needs child in the classroom they would otherwise attend.

The success of students with and without difficulties requires a psychologically motivating school climate where all students better understand one another, feel safe and supported, have positive relationships, are more respectful and accepting of each other. Friendship is a lot like food for children. The upshot is, most children function best when these social needs are met. It is easier for them to stay motivated, to handle failures and accept diversities.

Important aspects of inclusion to consider are the social and emotional benefits. Students entering an inclusion classroom have increased interaction with their peers. They are able to develop stronger social and communication skills. This increased interaction with regular students will better prepare the special needs student for post-school experiences.

Segregation only fosters ostracism, whereas integration fosters acceptance. One common misconception in an inclusive classroom setting is that students with difficulties absorb more of the teacher’s time to the disadvantage of students without IEPs. That has not been our observations to date. On the contrary it inculcates in the normal peer students a sense of ownership and responsibility for the special student’s achievements.

The non-disabled students in an inclusive classroom have an increased academic performance as they are very instrumental in supporting their special need peer. They learn valuable life skills such as accepting differences, patience, and respect. As one of students rightly said” You think that you’re teaching him (student with difficulty) things, but really He’s teaching you things. We might be teaching him stuff like how to do things, but he’s teaching us more how to think and how to react to other problems. We love him.”

Our society is fast shrinking into self, where we do not find time nor have the tolerance for our peers, many of the values of the joint family system are lost to today’s nuclear families. Parents should provide opportunities to ensure an all-round development of their child. It is not just engineers and doctors we are in need of, our pluralistic society needs citizens who can accept, respect and play an zealous role in enhancing human values.

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