A recent study conducted by Education 360, an educational research organization, has found that despite a move towards inclusive rhetoric in education, negative and oppressive disability discourses continue to pervade school settings labeled as inclusive.
The study, published in the journal Disability & Society, used a collective case study approach to explore the experiences of 10 families with children in inclusive school settings. Semi-structured interviews were analyzed using critical discourse analysis techniques.
The study found that inclusive schools often reproduce exclusion by pathologizing “difference” rather than leveraging difference to enrich learning and classroom experiences.
Labeling disabled children as fragile, deficient, delicate, lazy, expensive, and inconvenient was found to reinforce feelings of exclusion in these settings. School governance practices that maintained authority on what constitutes “normal” also contributed to the exclusion of children with disabilities.
The authors of the study, Paige Reeves, Stella L. Ng, Meghan Harris, and Shanon K. Phelan, conclude that current school-based policies and structures perpetuate a deficit discourse, despite intentions to promote inclusion in the school context.
They encourage school leaders to examine their school culture and implement policies that bridge the gap between inclusive education policy and practice.
This study adds to the growing body of literature within Disability Studies in Education that highlights the need for more inclusive and equitable education practices for all students, including those with disabilities.
It is imperative that schools work to dismantle exclusionary discourses and create truly inclusive environments for all students to thrive.
Full research paper below
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The exclusionary effects of inclusion today: (re)production of disability in inclusive education settings.
Special education settings have been known to be the place for educating children with disabilities. However, special education approaches have been critiqued within the Disability Studies in Education (DBE) literature for being entrenched in a deficit discourse. Philosophies of inclusion have been asserted as a superior discourse that emphasises diversity as a norm and individual differences not as a problem to be fixed but as opportunities for enriching learning. The question is whether inclusive education practices are consistent with its philosophy.
What disability discourses are (re)produced in inclusive school settings?
What are the effects of these discourses on families’ experiences of inclusion in inclusive school settings?
A collective case study approach was used to explored 10 cases of parent and child experiences in inclusive school settings. Semi structured interviews were conducted and analysed using the critical discourse analysis technique.
There is a disjuncture between how inclusion is understood theoretically and how it is enacted in school settings. Despite a move towards inclusive rhetoric, powerful negative and oppressive disability discourses continued to permeate school settings labelled as inclusive.
• Inclusive schools reproduced exclusion by pathologizing “difference’ instead of leveraging on difference to enrich learning and classroom experiences.
• Naming and labelling of disabled children as fragile, deficient, delicate, lazy, expensive and inconvenient were found to reinforce feelings of exclusion in inclusive school settings.
⚫ School governance practices that maintained authority on what constitutes “normal” also reproduced exclusion of children with disability in inclusive school settings.
Despite intentions to promote inclusion in the school context, current school-based policies and structures perpetuate a deficit discourse. School leaders are encouraged to interrogate school culture and institute policies that close the gap between inclusive education policy and practice.
AUTHORS: PAIGE REEVES, STELLA L. NG, MEGHAN HARRIS & SHANON K. PHELAN
Reeves, P., Ng, S. L, Harris, M., & Phelan, S. K. (2022). The exclusionary effects of inclusion today:(re) production of disability in inclusive education settings. Disability & Society, 37(4), 612-637.”