The Importance of Inclusive Education for All Kids
Inclusive education is a phrase used to describe the joint education of special needs and typically developing children. It’s an often misunderstood and misused concept; many schools claim to be inclusive, but with the best will in the world, few are. So, what is it all about?
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What is inclusive education?
Inclusive education means students and special needs students learn while sharing the same physical space and interacting socially and academically. It’s not either-or; simply sharing the same physical space, but engaging in completely different activities, is not inclusive. Because of this, it’s important for a school’s whole community to understand inclusion and make it a goal: School administrators, teachers, parents and kids all have to buy into its value. When this happens, everyone benefits.
The importance of inclusive education
At its core, inclusive education is about appreciating each individual’s differences and unique set of strengths and limitations. It’s not just an education philosophy; it’s an important life skill. Children grow into adults who live in a world filled with people different from themselves; learning how to interact and work with these people is a key accomplishment of childhood, as integral as academic proficiency. An inclusive school is a perfect training ground for real life, because daily social, physical and academic interaction between kids who are typically developing and their special needs peers means students develop:
- Greater sensitivity. Children who develop in a typical manner become more sensitive by learning side-by-side with special needs children. They understand how words can hurt, they practice patience, and they learn empathy.
- Better understanding of strengths/weaknesses. Kids in inclusive schools learn that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. They learn to appreciate these differences and how to collaborate in order to accomplish something.
- More tolerance. Inclusive schooling teaches kids the value of another human being—no matter what that person looks or sounds like. Physical and mental differences do not equate to a lesser value.
Spotting the inclusive school
Inclusive education in the real world requires a delicate balance of resources, goodwill and monitoring in order to make the experience successful and beneficial for all students. Parents of all children will find an inclusive school has:
- A learning resource center or an in-house team of specialists who can address the unique needs of special needs children.
- A sensitized teaching staff with the enthusiasm and skill to teach inclusively.
Inclusive education in India, where the field of special education is still nascent and funding is low, can be difficult to find. While you may not find the ideal mix of support in your child’s school, it’s important to work with what already exists in the system in order to create greater awareness and opportunities for inclusion. Be a champion of inclusive projects and programs whenever possible in your child’s school and life.
Living an inclusive life
Inclusion isn’t just an educational style, it’s a life philosophy. Children pick up cues from adults early on, and if you make a big deal of people’s differences, your children will, too. Inclusive education combats the world’s tendency toward prejudice and fear, and produces more tolerant, peaceful, and open children—and adults.