Factual Inclusive Education: Theory to Practice

Inclusion covers all students, including those with behavior problems, lower academic abilities, and health conditions

A major benefit of inclusive education is to give students and staff learning and teaching opportunities that reflect the wide range of contributions by and roles open to people similar to and different from themselves. Inclusion covers all students, including those with behavior problems, lower academic abilities, and health conditions. For inclusion to succeed, schools must think about how students function in each of four general domains: (1) language and literacy; (2) cognitive-conceptual development; (3) psychosocial functioning; and (4) sensory-physical abilities.

Several educational methods and curriculum designs to help students in these domains are suggested, including: support systems to deal with behavior problems; structuring models of effective instruction throughout the school; teaching strategies such as guided notes and cooperative educational curricula; a contextual and social approach to teaching rather than an individualized approach; treating students with disabilities like students without disabilities, especially with regard to core subjects such as math and language arts; and the need for high quality teaching methods for all students. Approaches to gifted education are also discussed. While the common view is that gifted students should be taught in inclusive classrooms, the research seems to support gifted students being taught in isolation from other students.

Recommendations for developing inclusive education include: increased support and involvement of parents, students, and teachers; planning curriculum change and providing resources for that change; and providing continuous staff development. Discussion also focuses on special needs, techniques for individualizing instruction, guidelines for helping students who work hard but still have difficulties, attending to student differences, self-concept, outside factors such as home life and socioeconomic status, intelligence, brain research, and the legal rights of children with special needs.

In conclusion, though inclusive education can be difficult and in practice hard to achieve, it can be very rewarding for teachers and beneficial in promoting the personal and educational development of all students.

Mwavuna Kazungu