Do you support 'segregation'?
The answer seems obvious, but maybe it is not
I have been looking into ‘Inclusion’ as part of my homework before completing a submission to Australia’s Disability Royal Commission. On that note, I still need word of your experiences — which I will make anonymous, I assure you — and you can either comment on this post or submit your experiences directly to me here.
You may think you are in favour of inclusion. You may also assume you are opposed to ‘segregation’ — a term loaded with the baggage of Jim Crow era America. However, if you watch the video above, you may be less sure.
The video is produced by Queensland University of Technology (QUT) which reassuringly bills itself as a ‘university for the real world’. QUT hosts The Centre for Inclusive Education and I found the video via a link on its website.
If I understand it correctly, the following are all examples of ‘segregation’:
Students with a disability who are placed in a special school.
Students with a disability who are placed in a mainstream school and who are withdrawn from class to complete a programme that is different to the rest of the students — perhaps an intervention relevant to their disability.
Students with a disability in a mainstream school who are in a mainstream class but who are given different resources to the other students.
In contrast, ‘inclusion’ means that students are in same class as their same-age peers, doing the same activities and studying the same content, but with adjustments made to enable them to engage.
Without the adjustments, it is ‘integration’.
Despite the video being produced by a university for the real world, I am having trouble picturing how children with a disability could be included in this way in a range of real-world contexts. Accepting the risk of creating a false choice, I am one of those people who tends to think of specific examples when confronted with generalities.
So, for example, I imagine a profoundly disabled, perhaps non-verbal, fourteen-year-old in a Year 8 algebra class and I wonder exactly what adjustments could be applied to make that form of inclusion work for that child? Or, perhaps, to make it more accessible, the Year 8 students should not be doing algebra? What about a child who cannot read, whose peers can read and who has the potential to learn how to read? If we withdraw that child for a reading intervention, is that not segregation? If we therefore decide to keep them in the class, how will they learn to read?
I don’t know the answers to these questions.