E801: Action 2.4: Reid & Valle (2004)
the mostly white middle class teaching force operates on assumptions embodied in our discursive practices about what constitutes knowledge, the purpose of schooling, and appropriate curriculum (Losen & Orfield, 2002)
Currently the focus is on remediating individual impairments rather than redesigning the context.
The teacher sets and assesses tasks depending on expected 'normal' responses. Children consistently performing outside those norms are analysed, individualised and pathalogised as different.
Testing the children justifies the reasons for their failure and exclusion. This exclusion from the learning environment removes the child from the community in which is so important for him/her to gain their learning and thus reinforces the difference from the norm. This will be more pronounced in children whose primary (home) environment is substantially different from the school environment.
If the child's primary linguistic discourse is different from the one at school, teachers may question a child's linguistic competence and use tests to diagnose disability. These tests are based on standard English and so those with a different primary discourse are likely to do poorly.
Educational settings and legal regulations are set to maintain the situation of the power elite and the majority of white, middle class parents are happy to support a system that will give the educational and economic advantage to their child.
Differentiated instruction - e.g. present text at various reading levels
Compensatory instruction - e.g. watch film rather than read whole book
Instructional compensation e.g. design for norm and adapt for others
The paper presents ideas for fully inclusive education without the need for special needs categories. The suggestions reflect the ideas suggested by the universal design for learning movement that was previously so commonly discussed in e-learning discussions. Nowadays they have been supplanted by more of a discussion on flexible design.
Having made such a fuss about the social environment, Reid & Valle conveniently forget it when they discuss how to implement their ideas for inclusion. What about the family backgrounds of these children? Cultural influences? It is all very well getting the children to discuss their backgrounds and life experiences but many may be unwilling to do so due to family prohibitions or culture. Inclusion does not equal a safe environment and bullying will still occur. It will not be safe for children to discuss life experiences in front of bullies and they may not consider it safe for them to reveal their problems by accessing the variations in curricular design. How do we create this safe environment when they go out of school to exist in other environments which may demand they protect their identity by attacking the identities of classmates?