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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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Chapter 10. “That’s Easy—Just Do It”: Experiencing Inclusion

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This chapter will discuss essential core elements of inclusion that enable inclusive change, as demonstrated through the experiences of the school staff. These elements were relationships, advocacy, a sense of identity, shared experiences, and transparency. Each of these elements worked to strengthen the effort to develop inclusion in the subject school. These elements fuelled inclusive change in an ever-enlarging spiral—the more they were developed, the stronger were the foundations for inclusive change, and the more pronounced these core elements became. Woven through these elements was the notion of transparency. Transparency involved the ability to see how values and beliefs were demonstrated within the school. This improved vision enabled community members to see who was included or who was excluded. These core elements offer to other schools a deeper understanding of inclusion and of how inclusive values can be strengthened within their communities.

The part of the school community that has been the primary focus of this book has been the staff team—how the staff have examined the meaning of core ← 127 | 128 → values such as “caring” and “a place for all,” renegotiating amongst and within themselves what was “normal,” what was accepted, what was not accepted, and what practices reflected their growing interpretation of those core values. In exploring the nature of inclusion they contributed to a deeper understanding of that concept. The findings discussed in the following section highlight elements of inclusion that create the context for meaningful inclusion to take root. These elements include...

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