Have you ever wondered that the aim of the ‘equality of education’ must be shifted to ‘equity of education’? I was forced to ask this question to myself after dealing with more than 300 students in the past year. I got the opportunity to teach in a formal set up of school as my first job.
Let me share with you the events, which led me to ask this question.
I was teaching Water Cycle to the students of class 5. The topic was already introduced to them as it was present in class 3 as well. Most of the students were already well aware of the topic and actively participated in classroom discussions. But there was a group of 2 boys sitting in the corner who simply looked lost. Even after trying multiple efforts to engage them, I could not get the desired result. At last, I had no option but to end the class and move to the next class and topic.
After a few days, something similar happened, but this time in the English class of 3rd graders. It happened again, this time in a different class. I was heavily disappointed and felt as if I have failed in being a good teacher. My subordinates suggested talking to the senior teachers and get their advice about the issue.
The said teachers tried to cheer me up, saying that such students are in every class, and I must not waste my time addressing them. Instead, I must focus on the students who are good and can give me good results. Ignorance is bliss but can it be the solution. But if they are to be ignored, then is their presence in school justified?
Fortunately, under the agenda of providing education more inclusive, our government had taken several milestone steps, including giving the right to education to all the learners. But unfortunately, under this illusion of inclusion, the aspect of catering to the exclusivity of learning is getting shadowed.
This illusion gives rise to questions such as, should education be the same for all? Should it be as per the need of a person? But he needs to serve society to fulfill education’s purpose, so shouldn’t it be as per society’s needs?
When I dug a little deeper and asked my professor about such a question, he simply said the definition of inclusion is actually not what it is interpreted.
Here I am just seeking to answer that many of you must have wondered, and if you have not, you should start wondering.
What is inclusive education?
For a long time, in most countries, children born with any kind of disabilities (especially mental and physical) were abandoned by their families. They were believed to be meager, tragic, cursed, and pitful individuals who were unfit and unable to contribute to society.
Around the mid 20th century, when many scholars recognized this difference, the evolution of education started. This evolution of education narrated it from exclusion to inclusion, from judgment to acceptance, and disability to difference.
Inclusive education implies that all the marginalized groups of society (based on abilities, disabilities, gender, ethnicity, orientation, capital, etc.) receive the same education as society’s mainstream section. Inclusive education presents the motto of “greeting diversity with inclusivity.”
In other words, inclusive education proposes that all the diverse children receive the same education under the same roof. As expressed by John Dewey in his book School and society (1899), schools are the medium to provide the context for a child’s first relationship with society, enabling the development of his social relationships and interactions.
Inclusive education is believed to provide quality education for all children. It is considered to be instrumental in changing the discriminatory attitudes of society. Significantly during the foundation years of learning, respect, sensitization, and understanding grow when individuals with diverse abilities and backgrounds play, socialize, and learn together; this type of education plays a crucial role.
Education that excludes and segregates society is believed to be perpetuating discrimination against the traditionally marginalized groups. Inclusive education develops the concepts of civic participation, employment, and healthy community life.
Thus, it is essential to understand and imply the spirit of inclusion in its real sense. It is not similar to the generalization of education needs.
Every learner is unique to one’s own capabilities, interests, skills, and aptitude. Therefore it is crucial to make the learning exclusive to the individual learning needs of the learner. For this same purpose, the recent trend in education is inclined to provide customized and personalized learning to new-age learners.
What is customized learning?
Each learner progresses through the material at a different speed and cognition depending on their own learning needs and abilities. Each student’s individual learning profile and plan are varied.
Customized learning ensures that all forms of the learner’s exclusive needs are fulfilled. Customized learning implies learning that is planned in such a way to address the learners’ strengths and weaknesses, areas of concerns, aptitudes, and skill to provide a more personalized learning experience to the learners
It is needed for catering to the individualized need of the learner. It lists the strategies required to enable a child to progress in a given education system.
It is provided with the parents, child, psychologist, counselor, and educator’s active involvement and hence is more learner-specific.
Instead of generalizing the individuality of the learner, it works for it. It does not mold the child into a generic belief. Instead, it tries to present the child’s ability to contribute to society’s well-being by nurturing his or her self-identity.
In conclusion, it can be established that inclusive education with exclusive learning is the emerging need for the growth of the learner as an individual and as a member of society. Customized learning is an essential aspect of inclusive education.
However, from the teacher’s point of view, the generalization of education is a common approach. The reason for this can be the lack of resources, awareness, the non-academic work pressure or sometimes, even the lack of the will. Whatever may be the reason, this approach is in the urgent need of the change specifically at the ground level.
The latest trends in education try to overcome this barrier of generalization. Online schools are better in these terms due to their flexibility and accessibility to all. K8 School: India’s First Accredited Online School aims to balance its individuality and inclusion in society.
Here at K8 School, I am happy to tell you that we design a learner-specific learning path based upon the requirements and learning styles.