Joan Miquel Sala Sivera. Director and educational advisor of High School.
Is anyone against education inclusion?
We are all in favor of the general principle of inclusivity, and ready to defend it, at least in public and, above all, in the field of ideas and convictions. Therefore, practical unanimity and noble commitment.
On the other hand, would anyone dare to question or deny it? Or would someone be able to excuse the opposite, which is exclusion, or imprisonment? That would be an EXCLUSIVE! Besides being much frowned upon, it would be very reprehensible and even punishable an attitude or practices of such caliber.
So, who are you trying to convince? At this point, does the whole thing really deserve a Congress? It seems that it still deserves it. Why?
For although the principle of inclusion has had to overcome many historical obstacles (from the extermination proclaimed by the laws of Sparta and Ancient Rome to the atrocious Nazi genocide, through medieval torture and bonfire by attributed demonic possession, imprisonment And rejection in “asylums” from the XV century, to the most recent exclusion in specialized settings); Today, in addition to the many social or labor barriers that are still to be dismantled, it is necessary not to neglect the analysis of the indisputable advances:
“There is no quality without equity. There is no equity without attention to diversity. There is no good attention to diversity without conceptions and attitudes presided over by the sense of inclusion “that would say Miguel A. Santos Guerra
In the same way that we should not ignore the complexity of the problems that are still present in the day-to-day of inclusiveness. What is the meaning of inclusive education? What is the meaning of inclusive education? What is the meaning of inclusive education? Does it have a projection in school practice? How is it substantiated in institutions, programs, resources, methodologies…?
It can be said that, from the perspective of legal developments in education – and since 1990, with more or less emphasis and success, there have been a few – much progress has been made. But, if we move between criticism, denunciation, claim; And the possibility, the creativity, the audacity and the desire for improvement, we will meet with joy and with shadows.
Are our students children or syndromes?
First, highlight some dissonances still present in psychology. Despite the achievements of so-called “mental health”, psychology favors a conceptual model focused on deficiency, disorder or disability, thus tending towards labeling, categorization or diagnosis. Even when it adds emphasis to the prophylactic, therapeutic, or clinical treatment; Neglects, if not disdain, standardization.
This conception has led to the emergence of mental diseases, of behavior or of development, as mushrooms in the greenhouse. The DSMI is deployed to its full extent, and we find the explanation of the causes (what will this student have?), And we give the corresponding seal for our total tranquility (of course, as is TDHA!).
From there, the effects do not wait. The guidance specialists, we have done our outstanding work. The teachers already have the clarification, and we will adjust our response according to the degree of specialization and professional commitment that we have. Parents relax their uncertainty, despite maintaining their restlessness and grief. And the student will continue to overcome his difficulties with more or less aid in his life.
What is wrong with all this? Nothing in particular, except that, despite promoting the honorable principle of inclusion, we put it into practice based on the prior conceptual categorization / differentiation of each subject. In this way, we elevate it to the category of “special”, neglecting the recognition of “normality” and the “natural” nature of existence. This is what has been called “excess pathologization” in education. Putting the name of difference or suffering can be reassuring, but does not that distance us from the problem, hoping that, from another field or perhaps from other professionals, the solutions arrive? …
Between diversity and uniformity
Second, sociology has made important contributions to understand the risks of social and family exclusion, the consequences of maladjustment, the presence of marginalization, the understanding of minorities or the effects of rejection or dropping out of school. But an excess of emphasis on the intrinsic causes of the school institution as originating from social inequalities, or perpetuating the differences of origin, has neglected the compensatory and inclusive function of the school. And when these functions are claimed, sociological criticism consists in alerting the dangers of “imposition”, “acculturation” and “sociocutural uniformity”. (Attentive to “homeschool”!).
Our educational system has advanced in the compulsory education, extending the age of schooling, but applying the same basic approach to all the stages gained (the so-called “comprehensiveness”, minimum objectives for all). And today we know that the main tools to underpin this principle – “attention to diversity”, “compensatory education” or “educational guidance” – have not been enough. The numbers of absenteeism, failure and early abandonment continue to blush. So we are practically at the same point of departure of sociological criticism, without having adequate alternative proposals for the complex problems that afflict the day-to-day of schools. (However, it is to be thanked for the analysis of “What will become of us, the bad students” of Alvaro Marchesi)
Pedagogy for everything.
Finally, pedagogy, always attentive to previous sources, has offered recognized advances in the field of intervention and response to educational needs (methodologies, ICT, systems of adaptation, evaluation, compensation …); In the area of the organization (programs of diversification, support, combined schooling, teacher training …); And in the field of collaboration (learning communities, coordination of institutional resources, family…).
But in this area, one of the most frequently heard accusations has also been the excessive “pedagogization” in the identification of learning problems. How easy it is to distinguish between clever and stupid students and workers or vagrants, making the relevant combinations of both variables! (Juan C. Torrego Seijo). And the next most imputed imputation is that of having only offered foundation and principles, with beautiful rhetorical packaging, but with few viable, practical and useful initiatives to make the aforementioned inclusive education more feasible. (Also to thank “How to give class to those who do not want” by Juan Vaello Orts).
Against the shadows, some joy and hope.
Let us accept that the educational system contemplates measures based on a new model of inclusive school and adaptive teaching. The normative advances of the last decades allow that the schools have autonomy for a more flexible organization and to adopt the measures of attention to the diversity adapted to the characteristics of its students, (pity that they are oriented in excess to the attainment of the objectives Of the degree, and little to those of the integral development of the people).
But the law is not enough, since inclusion implies restructuring the culture, organization and practices of schools. It is still easy to find the idea that diversity is an added disadvantage for the school, which must be resigned to resignation; Or that attention to diversity belongs only to highly specialized teachers and that it is therefore “them” who are solely responsible for caring for children or young people with learning disabilities, disabilities, behavior difficulties, Risk or lack of motivation. And so diversity is perceived as a problem to solve, and not as a wealth or added value to an educational community. And this is how the specific needs of educational support also become barriers to learning and inclusion.
Inclusion or inclusive education is not another name to refer to the integration of students with specific educational support needs. It involves a different approach to identify and try to solve the difficulties that appear in the centers. In fact, some people use the concept of “barriers to learning and participation” and do not use the concept of “educational needs” because they believe that the labeling they promote can be a barrier to the development of inclusive practices in schools. This would occur because, when labeling a student with specific needs, lower expectations are generated by teachers, and because this practice could also divert attention from the difficulties experienced by other students. (Index for inclusion, CSIE, New Redland, Frenchay Campus, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol BS16 1QU, UK)
Hence, if we follow the above-mentioned clinical model, where difficulties in education are considered to be produced by strictly personal deficiencies or problems, we would be denying innovations in culture, organization and school practices for inclusion.
And today we know that, according to the psychopedagogical model, the specific educational needs are not only the result of deficiencies of origin, nor exclusively attributable only to the individual, but can also appear through an interaction between students and their contexts. Social, economic or family circumstances affect their lives. As well as school history, educational experiences or even the teachers.
Educational needs are also generated through those attitudes, actions, cultures and institutional practices, including psycho-pedagogical evaluation, discriminatory with diversity, differences, learning difficulties, multiculturalism, deficiencies, chronic diseases or socio-educational disadvantage.
Hence, with a critical and constructive sense, it is necessary to overcome the excessively clinical sense – that of “illness” – that could have the psychopedagogical evaluation, in favor of its more contextualizing and normalizing orientation – that of “health”. This will require further innovation, designing and building the new inclusive school model.
That is why I defend that educational guidance ceases to be anything more than a simple department, to be a principle that permeates the dynamics of pedagogical functioning of schools.