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Inclusive education and attention to diversity

marzo 31, 2021

Attention to diversity does not depend exclusively on the adoption of a certain organizational approach, although it does include it, nor does it depend on the implementation of one or more specific measures, although they are welcome.

There are those who affirm that the extension of the educational reform has institutionalized a discourse on attention to diversity, which carries the risk of the trivialization of this concept. Therefore, attention to diversity has been understood as a need of the system, a concept linked to the comprehensive conception of the reform, an obligation for teachers who have to reflect them in their curricular, center and classroom projects, etc. , rather than a consequence derived from the basic characteristics of the acts of learning and teaching.

This model and set of practices is still interesting, but we must not overturn the whole meaning of attention to diversity on these types of issues alone. That is, and to clarify a little more, if when we take a look or ask the teachers of pre-school, primary or secondary education, we only observe or verify a series of practices consisting of the creation of certain corners or workshops, reduction of groups, from support from inside and outside the classroom, from the increased time they dedicate to some students, or from the creation of a specific schedule of “attention to diversity”, we stop perceiving the deep meaning and, consequently, the adoption of models of understanding and more appropriate intervention, in the field of diversity.

Clearly, attention to diversity does not depend exclusively on the adoption of a certain organizational approach, although it does include it, nor does it depend on the implementation of one or more specific measures, although they are welcome.

Attention to diversity is an objective that conditions the globality of the school as an institution and what happens in it interpreted from a set of sociocultural assumptions about learning that draw from the meaning of the educational relationship in the classroom, from the didactic act as an act clearly communicative, who consider the interaction between people as the main factor that helps to build and organize knowledge, while interpreting diversity as a manifestation of the different ideas, ways of doing things, interests and needs that come together in the classroom .

This conception is what leads us to consider the classroom as a space for communication and exchange and involves focusing the discourse on diversity on those decisions that involve the curriculum and its development. The school is a place of learning, also of exchange, relationship, communication and meeting (with different realities).

Considering these assumptions about diversity makes it necessary to think about the “choice” of the best school for it. This is, without a doubt, the inclusive school; the practices that take place there would be considered inclusive education practices.

To break the traditional practices associated with deficit models, inclusive education arises. This was seen at first as an innovation in special education, but progressively it was extended to the entire educational context, as an attempt to make education reach everyone, under the consideration of educational spaces as places where in the At the beginning of the 21st century, we were going to consider as one of their most important characteristics that of the diversity with which they were presented, posing an undoubted challenge to society as a whole (education being an obligatory and intentional system, clearly the diversity with which is presented is something that affects us all).

What are the principles of inclusive education? If we look at the binomial inclusive education and diversity, taking into account the very nature of these concepts and of the school itself, the fundamental characteristics of inclusive education could be:

  • Consider inclusion not as a project that affects only one person.
  • Inclusion requires a global approach in the collaborative, that is, it affects the relationships and the measures that are adopted in the classroom, in the educational center and in the community in general.
  • The philosophy behind inclusion is a humanitarian philosophy, of human relations, therefore it flees from an exclusively technological, organizational or material interpretation.
  • That is why it affects and allows people to remove the labels or labels. It is about describing situations and contexts, stigmas caused by labels must be avoided at all costs.
  • It does not discriminate between people with or without disabilities, culture and gender, or any other personal or community trait that it projects as a reference (or difference).
  • It is accessible to all students in an educational community, without any exception.
  • All students have the same right to access a culturally valuable curriculum, according to their age and potential, differentiated until they appear sensitive to the people who learn in a certain situation.
  • It emphasizes respect for diversity among all people, in their own pace of learning, in their personal and cultural manifestations, in their worldview, in their values, etc.
  • Inclusive education considers the school as the most valuable instrument of the educational system, which is presented as organized and intentional, but also differentiated, preparing for life and facilitating the integral development of all people.

Inclusive education is, above all, a position on human rights. The school must produce an educational response to the needs and realities of all students and to the principle of equal educational opportunities, without segregating any person as a consequence of their disability or learning difficulty, gender or belonging to a minority.

This is easy to say, but it is the measures adopted that sometimes do not allow us to speak of a committed, global approach, of involvement with the principles of diversity and the attention that any system that is characterized by it deserves.

To include means to be part of something, to be part of the whole. Inclusive education emphasizes how to create conditions to increase individual and community security, establish spaces for relationship and exchange, spaces and real possibilities for the manifestation of one’s beliefs about the human being and, also, about learning, scenarios of projection of personal affections, interpretation of norms and values, possibilities of being oneself without aggression, real possibilities of changing without trauma.

In sum, the arguments in favor of inclusive education are not just educational. There are solid social and moral reasons. We can point out that the inclusive school is a human right, it supposes quality education and contributes to good social sense, creating more just, equitable and democratic situations.

But, to make inclusive school possible, more than words are needed. In order to adopt and also achieve a correct inclusion of the students, we can demand certain measures; we propose some of them:

  • There must be a political will to significantly improve attention to diversity within a general framework of improvement of educational institutions.
  • It will be necessary to have adequate funding to meet the needs arising from the adoption of an inclusive school model, material, personal and, of course, financial support is necessary.
  • To make decisions, a “school map” of attention to diversity is needed, containing complete, detailed, updated and computerized data.
  • More professionals and better trained are needed, who make the true approaches of attention to diversity their own.
  • Sufficient, accessible and functional facilities must be available.
  • Adequate material resources must be available.
  • In the detail of certain educational measures, it is necessary to better organize the functioning and global organization of attention to diversity, support systems, inclusion mechanisms, etc. These strategies and measures completely bathe the educational center.
  • More suitable legislation will be required on all these aspects.