The field of education has come a long way. We have moved away from segregating children into special and non-special schools. Rather, schools these days follow an Inclusive approach. Inclusive Education is a child-centric approach, where schools include differently-abled children in the mainstream structure.
While, inclusive education has become a buzz word; the actual practice of inclusion can only come about when we first acknowledge what the child needs. We need to understand the child’s areas of concerns and requirements in terms of support. Inclusion does not mean we force a child to be part of a mainstream structure, only because it is the norm to do so.
Integrative vs Inclusive
There is a huge difference between integrative and inclusive practices. Integration means that a child with a disability is part of the mainstream school but is refrained from doing the same things as his / her peers. Whereas, inclusive practices are those which ensure that a child with a disability is allowed to perform the same or similar functions as his / her peers.
Benefits of Inclusive Education:
- Diversity in the classroom: The peer group is an important part of every child’s life. Children learn from each other quicker than they would from the adults around them. When we have a classroom that is a mixture of children with or without additional support needs, we are teaching important values of acceptance, support, creativity and empathy
- Collaboration in the classroom: Children learn that they need to accept one other and be better team players. When you have children from diverse backgrounds and with diverse needs, they soon realize that they need to support one another in order to better themselves.
- Preparation for reality: An inclusive classroom prepares children for the outside world. It allows them to learn how to understand each other and live in harmony.
- Breaks down the stereotypes: Inclusive classrooms help in educating children about what additional support needs are and what are the stereotypes associated with it. It helps in reducing the stigma attached to the various ‘disabilities’ and allows children to become better informed.
- Better teaching practices: Inclusive classroom challenges the educator in a good way. He/she will need to cater to all learning styles as well as effectively practice differentiated instruction. This form of teaching will benefit, not only a child with additional support needs, but all children.
Inclusive education is a philosophy and a way of imparting education to ALL children. It needs to cater to all children in the classroom to allow them to grow together so that we can have a better and brighter future.