Inclusion & Promoting Inclusion
“Inclusion is about creating interesting, varied and inspiring learning opportunities for all learners, ensuring all learners contribute and are never disadvantaged by methods, language or resources” Wilson (2008) p 153. As the CSIE explain: “Arguments for inclusive education are well documented and rest on notions of equality and human rights. Much more than a policy requirement, inclusion is founded upon a moral position which values and respects every individual and which welcomes diversity as a rich learning resource.” (www.csie.org) So although inclusion is essential in any learning institution, it is important for a teacher to recognize that it goes beyond the realms of the classroom to affect the wider social community.
Inclusivity requires that teachers use appropriate tasks and resources to involve everyone and there are various teaching methods and approaches which can go some way to ensure inclusion within learner sessions. Examples include partnering learners with different abilities giving individuals a chance to learn from each other whilst working together; regularly swapping round the individuals in group learning sessions and employing a variety of teaching styles to reinforce an explanation, such as handouts, presentation and demonstration. If teachers plan their lessons to accommodate V.A.R.K learners, sessions will be intrinsically inclusive. If students lack confidence, teachers can establish a series of short achievable tasks as milestones and reinforce their achievements with praise at each juncture. For learners with poor engagement, teachers can construct a lesson plan that is divided into achievable sections and use elements of brain gym within or between sections to keep learners engaged. Inclusive education is based on a belief that student differences are a positive thing; viewing these differences as resources to support learning as opposed to to seeing them as a problem which must be tackled by the teacher. All students and staff must be treated equally; in an environment where barriers to learning and participation are constantly challenged.
Personal, social and cultural factors
Creating a truly inclusive classroom is often easier said than done; particularly when one considers the huge range of learners that a teacher is likely to encounter. Personal, social and cultural factors have a huge impact on learning and these factors must be assessed and taken into account in all lesson planning. Personal factors cover a huge spectrum of issues including individual ability or disability, previous education, self-esteem, motivation, diet & lifestyle, sexual orientation, age gender and financial circumstance. A student whose previous learning experiences were essentially negative will normally lack motivation so the teacher must devise activities and draw up lesson plans to make learning a more fun & positive experience. Choosing a subject/topic that an unmotivated student has an active interest in, can often be a good starting point; whilst introducing games and activities related to the curriculum can help to increase student engagement and boost motivation. Social factors such as housing issues, family support (or lack of it), single parents, peer pressure, drug or alcohol problems etc also have a huge impact on learning, and can often create a genuine barrier to full student engagement. Cultural factors are similarly important and cannot be overlooked if the teacher is fully committed to inclusive practice. Religion, cultural values and language issues are the most obvious cultural factors that must be considered, but these go hand in hand with related gender issues (i.e.: what is acceptable/unacceptable for women from certain cultural backgrounds), family pressure and a whole range of preconceptions which the teacher might not necessarily be aware of. This huge range of social, personal and cultural factors...