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Educating All

Developing Inclusive School Cultures From Within

Series:

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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Chapter 3. The Utopian Roots behind Inclusion

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As a concept, inclusion has moved from what was primarily a disability issue to one of social justice, concerned with any who face exclusion or oppression. Similarly, inclusion has grown to consider the culture of the whole school, and of the whole community. The strength and persistence of inclusion can be said to be the vision that it explores, a vision of a future society where all are welcomed and valued, and where the values espoused by society, such as equal opportunity, meaningful democracy, and sustainability (to mention a few) are embedded, not only in voiced aspirations, but also in lived reality. This vision of the future fuelling inclusion is decidedly utopian. It is filled with a hope and an optimism that has already brought some change to our educational systems. By challenging the status quo with an alternative vision, progress can occur.

Utopia, in this sense, is the spirit of progress. This section will look at the utopian urge behind the movement for inclusion. It will consider the contribution of the American educational philosopher John Dewey and his call for democracy in education, and the education of democracy. Dewey asked us to consider carefully what kind of citizen we wanted education to produce. This question is crucial in orientating the gaze forward. The letters and notebooks ← 27 | 28 → of Antonio Gramsci further reveal the impulse to improve our current reality through demanding a critical assessment of that present and actualising the human agency involved in creating change....

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