The Power of the 'Normal'
Inside the ‘Inclusive’ Childhood Classroom: The Power of the ‘Normal’ offers a critique of current practices and alternative view of inclusion. The rich data created inside three classrooms will challenge those who work in the field, as the children and their performances, previously overlooked, are foreground. Although at times confronting, it is ultimately invaluable reading for classroom teachers, students, academics, and researchers as well as anyone who desires to deepen their understanding of inclusive processes. The inclusion of children with diagnosed special needs in mainstream early childhood classrooms is a policy and practice that has gained universal support in recent decades. Exploring ways to include the diagnosed child has been of interest to inclusive research. Adopting a poststructural perspective, this book interrupts taken for granted assumptions about inclusive processes in the classroom. Attention is drawn to the role played by the undiagnosed children, those positioned as already included. Researching among children, this ethnography interrogates the production of the classroom ‘normal’. As the children negotiate difference, the operations of the ‘normal’ are made visible in their words and actions. In their encounters with the diagnosed Other, they take up practices of tolerance and silence, effecting fear, separation, and a desire to cure. These performances echo practices, presumed abandoned, from centuries past. As a way forward this book urges a rethink of practice-as-usual, as these effects are problematic for inclusion and not sustainable. A greater scrutiny of the ‘normal’ is needed, as the power it exercises, impacts on all children and how they become subjects in the classroom.
3 Exploring the Production, Reproduction and Maintenance of the ‘Normal’
Exploring the Production, Reproduction and Maintenance of the ‘Normal’
Although not all contributing discourses can be explored here, an account is given of the ones identified as the more pervasive; developmental and psychological discourses, special education discourses, medical discourses, regulatory and disciplinary discourses and play and friendship discourses. In this chapter, critical questions are examined; how are these discourses created and how do they constitute the ‘normal’ in the inclusive classroom? How do the children, in taking up these multiple discourses, produce themselves, others and the ‘normal’? Do these prevailing discourses, and the subject positions they provide, produce inclusionary practices or are exclusions visible? And finally what are the effects on subjectivities?
Developmental and Psychological Discourses
Developmental discourses are widely accepted and proliferated in early childhood classrooms (Burman, 2008; Cannella, 1997; Robinson & Jones-Diaz, 2006). These discourses promote a ‘universal’ child that develops in a ‘normalised’, prescribed and predictable way. Any deviations in this development are usually described as deficits, as they are compared to the constructed and fixed ‘normal’.←35 | 36→
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