Relational and Responsive Inclusion

Contexts for Becoming and Belonging

by Mere Berryman (Volume editor) Ann Nevin (Volume editor) Suzanne SooHoo (Volume editor) Therese Ford (Volume editor)
©2015 Textbook XXII, 320 Pages


Socially unjust circumstances continue to perpetuate inadequate classroom, school and system-level responses to longstanding social justice imperatives, shutting out power-sharing solutions to educational disparities and marginalizing populations of Indigenous and minoritized peoples. To address these educational disparities, this book proposes a relational and culturally responsive framework, from within a critical and indigenous paradigm that is designed to foster one’s sense of becoming and belonging in the world with all people, and thus promotes inclusion. Praxis such as this challenges traditional paradigms that marginalize or dehumanize those with whom we seek to work. Social justice in education must be concerned with recognizing, respecting and being inclusive of the diversity of all students. Social justice is about valuing and including all children for the potential they arrive with and for the families that stand beside them, rather than on what we might aspire to change and mold them into being.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editor
  • About the book
  • Advance praise
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • About the Cover
  • Chapter One: Cultural and Relational Responses to Inclusion and Belonging: A Dream to Dream Together
  • Section I: The Changing Experiences, Policies, and Systems Supporting Students with Disabilities
  • Chapter Two: Culturally Responsive Inclusion: On Whose Terms?
  • Chapter Three: Culturally Responsive Inclusion—a Possible Imperative?
  • Chapter Four: Inclusion For All—or Just Some? Drawing from Evidence That Counts for Māori: Whaia ki te ara tika
  • Chapter Five: Working within Government: Contexts to Include Māori Students with Hearing Impairments in Education
  • Chapter Six: Opening Futures: Culturally Responsive and Relational Practice in Schools
  • Chapter Seven: Muslim American Conscientização: A Primer on Engaging Muslim American Students
  • Chapter Eight: Rethinking the Process of Engagement: Considering the Possibilities
  • Section II: Research about Culturally Responsive Practices That Have Worked Towards Inclusion
  • Chapter Nine: Cultural and Relational Contexts for Becoming and Belonging
  • Chapter Ten: Connecting with Māori Whānau and Community
  • Chapter Eleven: The Maintenance and Transmission of Indigenous Languages and Cultures by Immigrants to the United States
  • Chapter Twelve: Inclusion of Indigenous World Views into Nursing Curricula
  • Chapter Thirteen: School as a Place of Becoming and Belonging: Starting with One Child to Whole School Reform
  • Chapter Fourteen: Reflecting on Inclusion through a Culturally Responsive Lens
  • Chapter Fifteen: Forced Choices and Limited Options: Latino and White Parents of Adolescents with Significant Disabilities Navigate the Labyrinth of a Large Urban School District
  • Chapter Sixteen: Relational and Responsive Inclusion: Learning from These Experiences and Studies
  • Author Biographies
  • Series index

← xii | xiii → Preface


Education has always been about being, becoming and belonging. But shadowing these pregnant gerunds and verbs across time and space have been the questions: Being, becoming and belonging for what purpose and in whose interest? Who are we? What are we becoming? And to whom and to what will we belong? Across the United States and throughout much of the global educational establishment there exists a deep and technocratic undercurrent running beneath the field of teacher education, demonstrably affecting the most significant public spaces where the subjectivities—the being, becoming and belonging—of our citizens are fashioned: our schools. Much of this has to do with what sociologist William Robinson (2015) has described as the rise of transnational state apparatuses and supranational and transnational institutions that have been renovating and restructuring capitalist globalization in the face of the crisis of 20th nation-state capitalism, leaving in their wake disturbing new instantiations of transnational class inequalities, wars on drugs and terrorism, the criminalization of immigrants from the south and a clamping down on social movements formed by fractions of today’s dispossessed humanity, particularly those fueled by youth resisting what Henry Giroux and Brad Evans has called ‘disposable futures” (Giroux and Evans, 2015; Giroux, 2012). The ideological and cultural changes that have accompanied such economic restructuring by the transnational capitalist class have led to new opportunities for capitalists to open up hitherto untapped sites for surplus capital and social control, including our public educational system, worth billions of ← xiii | xiv → dollars to financial investors salivating at the thought of wrapping their hands around that now unprotected educational motherload and spinning off endless profits, money that was once secured by legal fiat and designated for the sole use of educating all of our children and not for making profits for corporate investors.

Given this scenario, it is not surprising that many educational policymakers and administrators have made an antecedent and intransigent decision to keep teaching separate from the realm of the ideological and the political. In too many instances this has meant the establishment of an instrumentalized teaching force that is discouraged from assisting their student, in the words of Paulo Freire, to read both the word and the world, denying them important opportunities to engage vigorously in the political process and improve their lives and the lives of their families as well as members of their communities.

In too many classrooms there appears to be a negative affinity and profound sociocultural opposition between critical approaches to teaching and learning and official versions of pedagogy that have been approved for most classroom use. While this might have to do more with an uncontrollable visceral revulsion of education’s bold defenders of the status quo to critical teaching and a deep antagonism when it comes to the freedom-work that drives social justice pedagogies, the upshot is that both students and teachers are being denied opportunities to cultivate their protagonistic agency sufficiently enough to transform current social conditions in the interests of the social good, such as working towards full inclusion and equity in our schools and in the larger society.

One dimension of the struggle for inclusion (there are many dimensions, such as ethnicity, disability, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) that has garnered much public attention in the US of late has been the inclusion of ethnic studies programs and center in schools and on college campuses. The frailest and most chimerical objection to making concerted efforts to be inclusive of all ethnic groups in educational settings is that such efforts hide beneath the shadow form of their opposite: racism. In this view, the inclusion of ethnic studies programs or centers in US schools and university campuses constitutes a form of discrimination against white people who, presumably, simply want everyone to be treated as individuals and not as separate groups defined by race or ethnicity. Following such a logic, for minoritized identity groups to form their own groups or associations is tantamount to worshipping a false god, the true god being the individual merit of those who diligently apply themselves within the unregulated capitalist marketplace that promises to sort out all the hard workers from the freeloaders and social parasites, regardless of their race or gender. Perhaps this helps explain why the putatively ‘colorblind’ guardians of structures of white privilege feel so threatened by the potential presence of ethnic studies in their schools or university campuses. But doesn’t this prevailing narrative of colorblindness ignore the country’s racist past in the creation of present day inequalities? Doesn’t it fail to understand history as ← xiv | xv → consequences lived in the present moment, as the chains of the dead past continue to haunt the living?

Here it becomes especially important to recognize that we don’t need to be racist (i.e., belief in the overall inferiority of certain racial groups) in order to be complicit in racist practices, since racism can also be embedded in ‘structures’ that themselves carry the historical legacy of violence against minoritized populations. Our actions often unwittingly conform to rules and codes and practices that are congealed within the structures of our school, legal, religious and other systems, structures than disadvantage certain ethnic groups, such as African-Americans, and privilege others, especially Euro-Americans. Pretending that we are colorblind only helps to support racist rules and codes by actively refusing to acknowledge them, as if once we have identified institutionalized racist practices in which we unwittingly participate, we must de facto identify ourselves as bona fide racists. Again, we don’t have to be racists to participate in racist structures of power and privilege.

As absurd as it might seem, we continue to categorize groups of people according to our recent evolutionary ancestors who thousands of years ago were clustered along the world’s latitude, with some living closer to the equator who needed to maintain more melanin in the surface of their skin in order to protect them from the sun, and others, living in latitudes far from the equator, who needed to produce more vitamin D in order reach maturity and survive, which is produced in greater quantities when the sun strikes lighter skin. Those of us who have survived the multiple genocides spawned by the manifest ignorance surrounding such evolutionary developments, and who have inherited historically different kinds of privileges, need to harvest our evolutionary memory in order to right the wrongs of that history, even if we did not create those wrongs since it is clear that we still benefit from them. We cannot allow ourselves to be alienated from our own moral principles and continue to be swindled by the bad faith logic of the capitalist class. If we still believe that we don’t benefit from privilege then we need to ask ourselves if we have ever been stopped by the police for driving white, or had our children murdered by the police for carrying an air rife, or if we have seen our children fall to the ground under a hail of bullets ripping through their backs as they fled in terror from a police car. We are all called together to find responsible strategies of inclusion regarding attributes of race, gender, sexuality, disability, language and religion that play out differently depending on one’s class location in our capitalist society. Nowhere is this calling better evidenced than in Relational and Responsive Inclusion: Contexts for Becoming and Belonging.

The authors of this volume constitute an international group of Freirean-inspired educators and researchers who have in their own ways and in their own sociocultural and geopolitical contexts undertaken the important and challenging task of putting the practices and policies of inclusion and culturally responsive ← xv | xvi → pedagogy under critical scrutiny. Their struggles, insights and capacity for self-reflection and self-doubt offer us a range and depth of insights that would greatly benefit any and all researchers/educators working interculturally with and alongside groups of participants in various social and cultural settings. What clearly comes across in the chapters is how much the authors fully recognize that all words are simultaneously actions, that subjectivity and objectivity are invariably intertwined, that action and reflection cannot be separated. Most importantly, they recognize that living according to a socially manufactured common sense populated by racial prejudice, sexism, ableism and patriarchy, without challenging entrenched values and thinking in different registers and questioning fundamental assumptions related to power, privilege and exploitation, is to live to a certain extent in a consciousness that is shacked and bound by unfreedom, a consciousness which in all of its manifold complexity is stripped of its poetic essence, a consciousness that in the final instance must yield to the sledgehammer of critical doubt. In their different ways, the authors are committed to forging varying and diverse pathways to inclusion, caring generously for others, and refusing to remain in the thrall of a contemporary hopelessness that has infected many of those who face the humiliating awareness of being assigned to live overpowered by the hidden privileges that are part and parcel of the moralizing universe of technology and technocratic rationality and the overall dehumanizing process of austerity capitalism.

Relational and Responsive Inclusion is a pathbreaking illustration of inclusive liberatory pedagogy in action, one that will challenge teachers, researchers, community workers, students, and cultural workers to re-imagine ways of working democratically with others in a collective project of becoming more fully human. Likewise, insights from this volume will assist readers in fostering ways of living more creatively and responsibly as researchers through a renewed commitment to social justice and a refurbished sense of belongingness to our planet. What all of these contributions share is a commitment to a pedagogy as a form of an artisanship of the self, built upon reciprocal dialogue, a re-birthing of a consciousness of our own relational being, a commitment to mutual trust through intercultural understanding and a motivated wakefulness to the needs of others that often requires discursively repositioning ourselves as agents of transformation as we struggle to remain human in the capitalist nightmare. Relational and Responsive Inclusion represents a journey, a coming-to-know-with-others, through the creation of dialogic spaces of openness and possibility where the concept of inclusion is not merely a given but a possible future that must be engaged critically through transformative praxis, through disrupting more conventional understandings of inclusion, and by charting new horizons of research. These new horizons of research opened up by ← xvi | xvii → Relational and Responsive Inclusion are important precisely because they further question what it means to produce transformative knowledge in reciprocal ways while at the same time advocating a re-culturing of our institutions of learning to ensure that the seeds of the future, already planted in our moral principles and values, have a chance to grow in the sunlight of freedom.

Peter McLaren, Chapman University.


Giroux, Henry and Evans, Brad. Disposable Futures. Truthout, June 1. As retrieved from: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/23998-disposable-futures

Giroux, Henry. (2012). Disposable Youth: Racialized Memories and the Culture of Cruelty (London and New York: Routledge).

Robinson, William I. (2015). Global Capitalist Crisis and the North American Free Trade Agreement: Reflections 21 Years On. Truthout, June 4. As retrieved from: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/31168-global-capitalist-crisis-and-the-north-american-free-trade-agreement-reflections-twenty-one-years-on ← xvii | xviii →

← xviii | xix → Acknowledgements

We thank all the authors and their families and communities who have contributed to our learning and through this book will contribute to the learning of others.

We also acknowledge all of the scholars on whose shoulders we stand. Without these contributions this book would not be.

We are grateful to the power of dreams and consciousness for bringing us together to work in thoughtful, ethical, loving and communal ways. ← xix | xx →

← xx | xxi → About the Cover

The cover features a painting by Tūhoe artist Donn Ratana. It comes from his series called Te Wero (the challenge).

On important occasions, when New Zealand Māori greet visitors, wero are the first cultural ritual undertaken by the host’s lead warrior. The warrior challenges the visitors as he advances with fierce eyes and taiaha (wooden staff) in hand. Carefully he lays down a token of greenery or plumage at the foot of the leader from the visiting party. How the token is retrieved signifies the visitor’s intention for future collaboration.

Metaphorically, the wero in this book challenges the reader to critically consider their own role in perpetuating socially unjust circumstances that continue to marginalize Indigenous and other minoritized peoples. Our book poses power-sharing solutions for becoming and belonging that are relational and culturally responsive, and if appropriately undertaken, have the potential for future inclusion. ← xxi | xxii →

← xxii | 1 → CHAPTER ONE

Cultural and Relational Responses to Inclusion and Belonging

A Dream to Dream Together


Mehemea ka moemoeā ahau, ko ahau anake. Mehemea ka moemoeā a tātou, ka taea e tātou. If I dream a dream, I dream alone. If we all dream together, we can succeed together. Te Puea Hērangi, 1883–1952 (as cited in the Ministry of Education, 2011)


If, in reality, I am not in the world simply to adapt to it, but rather to transform it, and if it is not possible to change the world without a certain dream or vision for it, I must make use of every possibility there is not only to speak about my utopia, but also to engage in practices consistent with it. Paulo Freire, 2005a, Pedagogy of Indignation, p. 7.


A pressing challenge in education, that has been driven by and in turn continues to drive the ongoing and seemingly immutable educational disparities, can be associated with the power imbalances in classrooms and schools as a result of increasing ethnic, cultural and language diversity shifting the composition of the dominant mainstream society. As our education systems become more culturally, ethnically and linguistically diverse, rather than benefiting and learning from each other, we continue to expect our students to be represented within the same curriculum, pedagogy and testing regimen or we form separate enclaves and the divide becomes even wider. Many students from Indigenous and minority cultures have experienced the challenge that comes from living one’s own culture and trying ← 1 | 2 → to speak one’s own language when it is surrounded and overpowered by another more powerful culture and language (Glynn, Berryman & Atvars, 1996). This situation has led and can continue to lead to the loss of cultural and language identity; a situation that is further exacerbated when one’s lived experiences are re-storied or pathologized by others (Bishop, Berryman, Tiakiwai, & Richardson, 2003; Shields, Bishop & Mazawi, 2005). When diverse students have physical and/or learning disabilities, these situations are further exacerbated and problematized. Those who are marginalized, watch from the edges, often feeling belittled, othered, and/or alienated.

As an international team of scholars we offer our theorizing and practices within an alternative framework that we have termed a cultural and relational approach to inclusion. In Berryman, Nevin, SooHoo and Ford (2015), we argued for a more culturally responsive framework for social justice in education especially for populations viewed as ‘diverse’ where education can often result in belittlement and marginalization. In this book, we consider how a more responsive and relational response to the wide spectrum of student differences and diversity might mediate socially just and inclusive classroom environments. Our findings suggest a more critical and indigenous, relational response for inclusion and belonging. We propose that within contexts that are cultural and relational, a sense of becoming and belonging will be promoted, leading to greater opportunities for inclusion. Praxis such as this challenges traditional paradigms that marginalize or dehumanize those with whom we seek to work. We argue that ongoing inadequate responses at the level of classrooms, schools and systems are often responsible for the perpetuation of socially unjust conditions for specific groups of students. Power-sharing solutions to reduce these barriers are routinely dismissed and thus Indigenous and minoritized peoples continue to have their voices marginalized. To this end we will be resisting the APA convention of italicizing foreign (non-American) words in this book; while we will translate them for greater accessibility the first time we use them, we will be giving them the same space as all other words in recognition of the rights of all cultures and languages to claim these same spaces.

We posit that social justice in education must be concerned with recognizing, respecting, and being inclusive of the diversity of all students. While it may be understood that some students come to school from unequal situations and opportunities, and that schools need to provide support because of this, these same students should also be recognized for the contribution that, by their very diversity, they are able to make. Social justice is about valuing and including the cultural toolkits (Bruner, 1996) that children bring when they arrive at school and recognizing the important funds of knowledge (Gonzalez, Moll, & Amanti, 2005) of the families that stand beside them. Recognizing, valuing, and being responsive to children’s diversity is paramount. Being fair under the banner of social justice is about equity and respect for difference.

← 2 | 3 → In this book we encourage a stance where establishing respectful relationships of interdependence with participants is central to both human dignity and praxis. Such a stance requires practitioners to develop relationships that will enable them to intimately come to know the ‘Other’ with whom they seek to work. This may only begin to happen when such a relationship is reciprocated. A stance such as this challenges traditional notions of the professional experts working from an objective, distanced stance; instead it opens up spaces that call for engagement through the establishment of relational and interdependent discourses. While praxis of this kind may pose many questions, in this book we are looking at the issues of becoming, belonging, community, and culturally responsive inclusion through critical eyes. To problematize or criticalize inclusion, and its twin, exclusion, we ask:

Do people have the right to be exclusionary? Under what conditions might exclusion be the right thing to do?


XXII, 320
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2016 (February)
unjustness inadequance social justice
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2015. XVII, 320 pp.

Biographical notes

Mere Berryman (Volume editor) Ann Nevin (Volume editor) Suzanne SooHoo (Volume editor) Therese Ford (Volume editor)

Mere Berryman, PhD (University of Waikato), is an Indigenous woman of the Tuhoe tribe who works as an associate professor at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. Currently she is the director of a national secondary school reform initiative, Kia Eke Panuku: Building on Success. Ann Nevin, PhD (educational psychology, University of Minnesota), is professor emerita, Arizona State University. Over a lengthy career span (1969–present) she has authored books, research articles, chapters, and federal and state grants. Suzanne SooHoo, PhD (Claremont Graduate University), is the endowed Hassinger Chair in Education and the co-director of the Paulo Freire Democratic Project at Chapman University in Orange, California. Therese Ford is an Indigenous woman of Ngai Takoto who holds a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership and is currently working to complete her PhD at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. Therese is an academic director and professional development facilitator working with school leaders, teachers and communities in a national secondary school reform initiative in New Zealand.


Title: Relational and Responsive Inclusion
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