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Educating All

Developing Inclusive School Cultures From Within


Christopher McMaster

This book contributes significantly to the conversation about inclusion as a critical component of school culture. Educating All recounts Christopher McMaster’s experience as a critical ethnographer in a school community, given the task of not only studying the institution’s culture, but of creating change as well. The school used a whole-school framework known as the Index for Inclusion, which addressed students identified as having «special» or learning needs. The outcome of this process was the realization that the faculty and the system were not adequately providing optimum services to «special needs» students. By incorporating the special needs unit into a larger department and by utilizing it as a teaching center rather than a classroom, the staff and school leadership were able to produce a better alignment of value and practice and to provide a re-interpretation of just what is meant by «mainstream».
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← xii | xiii → INTRODUCTION


At the beginning of the project that would eventually become this book, William, the principal of McLean High School, asked me to describe in 150 words (or preferably less) what I was in this project for. After realising he wanted those words at that moment and not submitted later as some sort of homework assignment, I said, “Well, I will have to go back a few years for that.” I told him a story about two young parents in the early ’90s who were speaking to a school principal much like he and I were speaking now, trying to find a place in the school for their daughter. The education process for children with special educational needs and their families can be a rough experience, I said. It can be a constant battle, even for simple acknowledgment. I told him that even though my children were now past school age, I was still fighting that battle. I wanted to help make schools better places, more welcoming and accommodating places, places that not only responded to individual needs but also celebrated the wealth of diversity found in the local community.

Almost two years later I looked out the window of my office at home and saw William walking down my drive. By this time we had grown to be good friends and trusted confidants, who would happily talk about chainsaws as well as policy. This morning, a week into the summer holidays, he had in one hand a bottle...

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