Lately I have been driven by circumstances to be more reflective. What really happens in classrooms? Are our ideals met by practice?
Inclusion and mainstreaming have been used interchangeably but according to Katy Arnett in CAP Journal, 2013, the philosophies are very different. Inclusion should socially and academically benefit all children in a classroom even if they have different abilities and needs. Mainstreaming gives students with special needs access to the general ed classroom but the “different” abilities are not viewed as the teacher’s responsibility and peers work beside each other rather than with each other.
research showed that inclusive teaching practice was facilitated through the use of questioning that helped to build students towards more complex and challenging ideas, rather than take for granted that the students immediately and clearly understood the concepts under study before moving onto more complex questions
(Jordan et al., 1997, as cited in Arnett, 2013, p. 16)
the concept of ‘differentiation’ has also been heralded as a way to support inclusive teaching practice.
(Tomlinson 1999; 2001; Tomlinson & McTighe, 2006, as cited in Arnett, 2013, p. 16)
So the challenge is to turn ideals into reality. Do our practices reflect what we believe to be most beneficial to all? Can we start with becoming more aware and move towards becoming more proactive? I realize the issues are complex but the ideal is worth the ongoing discussion.