Future of inclusive education

Editor’s Note: On Nov. 15, 2012, Western News celebrated its 40th anniversary with a special edition asking 40 Western researchers to share the 40 THINGS WE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NEXT 40 YEARS. This is one of those entries. To view the entire anniversary issue, visit the Western News archives.

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The foundation of inclusive education is a belief all students belong and are valued members of their classroom and neighbourhood school communities. By including and valuing all members of the classroom, educators provide caring communities that appreciate the unique contributions and diversity of all people.

Unfortunately, in Canada and around the world, we still seem to hold the belief that some children with learning exceptionalities don’t belong in the regular classroom. We segregate them in their own classes or schools simply because of a label or identification.

This is a misguided and archaic notion. If we were to substitute this population for ‘girls’, ‘students living in poverty’ or ‘Aboriginal students,’ we would be appalled.

Research in teaching practices demonstrates inclusive education provides the most beneficial environment and outcomes for all students.

In the next 40 years, we will eradicate the belief that not all students belong in the regular classroom and equip and empower our educators with the competence and confidence required to teach students with exceptionalities.

Jacqueline Specht is an Educational Psychology and Special Education professor in the Faculty of Education.