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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 12. Inclusion One School at a Time?

← 146 | 147 → ·12·


Inclusion has been a stated aspiration since the introduction of Special Education 2000 in 1996. However, as an “aspiration” it remains a fragile concept. This book has argued that inclusion is more than an aspiration or a desire; it is a concept that is based on social justice and its expression is a reflection of the culture in which it is demonstrated. Building an inclusive educational system and an inclusive society is, as Allan (2005) noted, an ethical project, and is utopian in so far as it is a vision of a better future grounded in an understanding of the present.

Inclusion has proven hard to define, and as Slee and Allan (2001) have pointed out, there is an inherent danger in that. However, this lack of clarity or common model of what inclusion is or what inclusion looks like can also be seen as a strength. By the open nature of the term we can continue to explore its deeper meanings, deconstructing our older ways of thinking. In this sense the term inclusion is more like a spectrum than a measurable goal. We have already moved largely away from concepts such as “normalisation” or “integration”—to simply be in is not enough—to a wider interpretation that includes anyone in our schools or communities who faces barriers to his or her full and meaningful participation.

← 147 | 148 → There was once a time in our not-too-distant past that separate and isolated residential institutions were seen as...

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