Have you ever wondered that the aim of the ‘equality of education’ must be shifted to ‘equity of education’ to make it more inclusive? 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. They were already familiar with the topic 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 were 2 boys sitting in the corner who simply looked lost. Even after making multiple efforts to engage them, I couldn’t 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. This made me feel as if I have failed in being a good teacher. My co-teachers suggested me to talk to the senior teachers and get their advice on the issue.
The said teachers tried to cheer me up, saying that such students are in every class. I must not waste my time addressing them. Instead, I should focus on the students who are good and can give me good results. Ignorance is bliss, but can it be the solution? If I ignore them, then is their presence in school justified?
The illusion of inclusion,
Fortunately, under the agenda of providing more inclusive education, our government had taken several milestone steps. Most important of them is 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 needs of a person? As a person needs to serve society to fulfill education’s purpose, so shouldn’t it be as per society’s needs?
The above questions lingered in my mind for an entire day so I decided to ask my professor. According to him,’ The definition of inclusion is not what the world interprets’.
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?
In the past, families used to abandon the children born with any kind of disabilities (especially mental and physical). People referred them as meagre, cursed, and pitiful individuals. According to the society, they were unfit to contribute to society.
Around the mid 20th century, when many scholars recognized this difference, the evolution of education started. This evolution of education turned it from exclusion to inclusion, people in the mainstream started accepting them instead of judging and took them as different rather than disabled.
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 promises the quality education for all children. This instrument has changed the discriminatory attitude of the society. Significantly during the foundation years of learning, respect and understanding grow when individuals with diverse abilities and backgrounds play and learn together. This type of inclusive education plays an important role.
Education that excludes and differentiates among the society is believed to be discriminatory 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 interests, skills, and aptitude. Therefore it is important to make the learning exclusive to the learning needs of the learner. 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 abilities. Their individual learning profile and plan are varied.
Customized learning ensures that all forms of the learner’s exclusive needs are fulfilled. This learning implies that it should address to the learners’ strengths and weaknesses, areas of concerns, aptitudes, and skill to provide a more personalized learning experience to the learners
This form of learning caters the individualized need of the learner. The strategies required to enable a child to progress in a given education system is provided by customized learning.
To make the learning more learner-specific, it is provided with the parents, child, psychologist, counselor, and educator’s active involvement.
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 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. Online schools are better in these terms due to their flexibility and accessibility. 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.