Teachers Create Inclusive Education

What is inclusive education? Inclusive education is based on the conviction that all students, including those with intellectual disabilities, should be educated and receive instruction in regular classrooms. Inclusion is as important for the student who does not have a disability as it is for the one who does - important to the growth to their full humanity of each student and important to the quality of our society as we move into the future.

The object of inclusive education is not that every student master the same content. Most students with a disability can learn something about a subject. That is sufficient. But what is much more the goal is that students come to know and accept and respect one another and learn to interact with others, whatever their ability.

Initially inclusive education was met with great resistance among teachers who felt they were trained and hired to teach academics to students who were capable of grasping the academic content. They argued that having other students in the class was a distraction and wasting their time and even the time of both groups of students. Today, a more holistic vision of education is coming to prevail. With it, there is more recognition also of the need for classroom support - team teaching, educational assistants (teacher’s aids) - when students with disabilities are integrated into the classroom. At the same time, fully implementing inclusive education requires commitment, vision and creativity, and hard work on the part of the classroom teacher.

Participation in inclusive education has implications for the rest of a student’s life. One report states, “Much of children’s social interaction takes place in the classroom; consequently that is where most children learn how to behave toward one another and to develop and maintain social relationships.” Studies have shown that “people who had been through robust inclusive education arrangements were more likely to take part regularly in community activities.” (Scoping Inclusive Education, p. 17) Indeed, inclusive education is pivotal in creating the possibility for community inclusion.

Scoping Inclusive Education for Canadian Students with Intellectual and Other Disabilities
Scoping Inclusive Education for Canadian Students with Intellectual and Other Disabilities (469.95KB, PDF)

This report “presents an overview of current issues in the inclusive education of students with intellectual and other disabilities in Canada and implications for advocacy and policy development.”

Published by the Roeher Institute. Researched and written by Cameron Crawford.

When asked what helps most in forming friendships and a lasting social network, one family member stated: “Integration in school from the primary level onward makes for success. Everyone in the village knows him still to the present day!”

Family Member, QC

Inclusion is not automatic

It is possible to seem to embrace the idea of inclusive education without actually creating an inclusive environment. It is not enough for students to be in the same room together; they must be encouraged to interact on an equal footing, where both are recognized as having something to contribute to friendship.

Inclusion is legislated policy

Inclusion is legislated policy in provinces and territories across Canada. Legislation is based on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which states, “Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.” (sec. 15:1)

You will find below a document giving links to provincial and territorial educational policy. The ways in which inclusion is implemented vary from school board to board and province to province to territory. Often a board will have partial integration and students will also spend some time in a segregated class with a focus on learning life and job placement skills. Key to including students in a regular classroom is, of course, good supports for both the students and the teacher.

Provincial/Territorial Inclusion Legislation and Policy
Provincial/Territorial Inclusion Legislation and Policy (133.98KB, PDF)

This document contains some links to provincial and territorial government statements on inclusive education.

Why Inclusive Education is Preferable to Special Education
Why Inclusive Education is Preferable to Special Education (269.10KB, PDF)

In this document Dr. Gary Bunch of York University explains the difference between the somewhat older model, often called Special Education, and Inclusive Education, and “Why Inclusive Education is Preferable to Special Education.”

Report on Inclusive Education
Report on Inclusive Education (800.58KB, PDF)

This report by the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada highlights the policies and initiatives of the 13 Canadian provinces and territories.

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