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Relational and Responsive Inclusion

Contexts for Becoming and Belonging


Mere Berryman, Ann Nevin, Suzanne SooHoo and Therese Ford

Socially unjust circumstances continue to perpetuate inadequate classroom, school and system-level responses to longstanding social justice imperatives, shutting out power-sharing solutions to educational disparities and marginalizing populations of Indigenous and minoritized peoples. To address these educational disparities, this book proposes a relational and culturally responsive framework, from within a critical and indigenous paradigm that is designed to foster one’s sense of becoming and belonging in the world with all people, and thus promotes inclusion. Praxis such as this challenges traditional paradigms that marginalize or dehumanize those with whom we seek to work. Social justice in education must be concerned with recognizing, respecting and being inclusive of the diversity of all students. Social justice is about valuing and including all children for the potential they arrive with and for the families that stand beside them, rather than on what we might aspire to change and mold them into being.
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Chapter Three: Culturally Responsive Inclusion—a Possible Imperative?


← 46 | 47 → CHAPTER THREE

Culturally Responsive Inclusion—a Possible Imperative?



My first-grade teacher included me in all lessons that she taught, whereas my eighth-grade teacher taught her lessons to the average student, systematically excluding those who were different. Currently, I ponder the question of what makes one teacher inclusive and another teacher not inclusive. I’ve been a teacher for more than 50 of my 75 years of living. I am experiencing inclusion and exclusion regularly as a deaf/Hard of Hearing woman who is grateful for accommodations that make it possible for me to feel included (such as closed captioning to hear speakers at conferences and on the telephone). I am a monolingual white woman and learned how to interact with speakers of other languages as I met them in my classes. As a child of blue-collar workers, I was unaware of the lower economic status until I attended university and was asked to join a sorority (which quickly introduced me to the often hidden classism that exists in American society). I have had deeply engaging personal experiences as a member of a disability category (deaf/HoH); as a sister, niece, and daughter of family members who have medical challenges such as alcoholism and mental illness. Professionally, since entering the teacher education field in 1969 as an assistant professor in a state-funded university, I experienced both inclusion (as a member of a tightly...

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