This was not due to some sudden boost of humanitarian impulse on the part of benefactors, government and the public at large. Surely, no one can say it is not an important subject. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the role and significance of inclusive pedagogy in the new struggle for an inclusive society. Certainly there have been advances in thinking about the proper form education should take — advances in thinking about care and humane treatment. In providing a forum for discussion and critique we hope to provide the basis for a wider intellectual and practical foundation for more inclusive practice in schools and elsewhere.
. Academics since the mid-1960s, he says, have become so preoccupied with the weighty matters of theory and theorizing that they no longer bother to concern themselves with the mundanity of reform — of the kind of efforts at social justice that are behind inclusion. We know what it is to be confident, over-confident or to feel selfdoubt. Vygotsky, along with these other educators, returns to unadorned knowledge of learning which comes from our knowledge, as people, of what it is to learn. If this happens, and if there is insufficient thought about the nitty gritty mechanics, those who do work hard for inclusion can easily be dismissed as peddling empty promises. An argument is made, if we are looking to the shape of an education system for the future, for more reliance by all in education — practitioners, planners, academics, researchers — on ideals about equity, social justice and opportunity for all. The rational adult is, in other words, seen as the butterfly at Page 20 Page 21 Theory and theory talk 21 the end of some ugly but necessary pre-rational stages.
There is nothing to be lost in so doing, for the evidence is that there are no magic fixes or startling insights to emerge from the traditional knowledge base of special education. We argue that schooling should be guided by principles and that those principles are more or less the same whoever the participants in the schooling are taken to be. Only outside the confines of the disciplinary and professional knowledge that enjoys such status in special education will there be a restoration of faith in the kind of principles which must guide inclusive practice. We discuss this further elsewhere Thomas 1997b; 1999a; 2007. Before university teaching, he worked as a teacher and as an educational psychologist. We understand lying, openness, hypocrisy. The challenge is to identify what beneficial effects have emerged in special education practice from a particular piece of research — about assessment, or pedagogy, or whatever — which have not, on evaluation, proved to be as good as the effects emerging from the next non-research-based and probably cheaper and simpler method.
In light of this critique, they suggest that much of the knowledge about special education is misconceived, and proceed to provide a powerful rationale for inclusion derived from ideas about social justice and human rights. Discussion tends to lead to this method versus that method, or segregation versus integration, or exclusion versus inclusion. Author Biography Gary Thomas took up the post of chair in education at Birmingham in 2005. Their ideas about rejecting exclusion and encouraging participation for all spread rapidly to inspire a global educational community about the benefits of inclusion. And they also used sophisticated planning in avoiding tasks expected of them. While one focus in this has to be on the place and role of the special school, it is by no means the only focus: the thinking and practice that go on inside and outside schools may do much to exclude or marginalize children and the authors of this series try to give serious attention to such thinking and practice.
For much critique that gives rise to an inclusionary mindset emerges from committed theoretical positions which, it seems to us, share a need for scrutiny: the topic of inclusion is hardly uncontroversial see, for example, Croll and Moses 1998; Dorn et al. This discussion leads into two final chapters that make an argument for inclusion on the basis of the foregoing critique and discussion. Deconstructing Special Education and Constructing Inclusion is essential reading for teachers, head teachers, educational psychologists and policy makers. Even though there has been a turn away from the mechanistic behaviourism of his time, there is still strongly detectable a sense that those who urge the need for a more humanistic turn are slightly soft in the head. Can you imagine a school today requiring as a major subject the study and practice of good manners? The knowledge-roots of special education 3. Many excellent critiques have located the existence, growth and status of special education not so much in these knowledge-related matters, but in professional, structural and institutional interests at play in society. In turn, they explore and critique the results of this dominance for our views about children who are different and for the development of special education and its associated professions.
Koch 1964: 4—5 The warning is about the transposition of one kind of thinking to a different arena and it applies today as much as when Koch wrote. Indeed it has been an equally agreeable experience to revisit it, and interesting too, since there have been some significant shifts in thinking in the intervening years. In light of this critique, they suggest that much of the knowledge about special education is misconceived, and proceed to provide a powerful rationale for inclusion derived from ideas about social justice and human rights. We are most grateful also to Kath Sayer, whose work we draw on in that chapter, for permission to reproduce the barchart in Figure 3. The 1990s saw thinking about inclusion billow out from a one-dimensional plane, along which one viewed the integration and the valuing of children with disabilities and difficulties, to a three-dimensional terrain that now incorporates a more extensive spectrum of concerns and discourses — about the benefits that come from valuing diversity. The tools for thinking — the vocabulary, the theory, the research methodology — encourage particular ways of thinking.
It is surely not too early to say that certain elements of that theory proffer a serious misrepresentation of the way children think. It is to their simple truths about teaching, learning and thinking rather than to the theories and methods of psychologists or grand theoreticians that we should look in constructing inclusion. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the role and significance of inclusive pedagogy in the new struggle for an inclusive society. The resilience of special education Such critical commentary is well developed and has since the mid-1970s helped to lay the platform for many notionally progressive changes in legislation across the world. A good example of an approach which might be considered less conspiracy oriented is the analysis of Skrtic 1991 , which locates the phenomenon more in functionalism. Policy, politics and paradox -- Constructing inclusion.
Professional development surely depends far more on engagement in a community that shares and argues about ideas than it does on being spoon fed tips, bullet points and too easy answers. Seen through such a theoretical lens, all kinds of implications follow for teaching and for an understanding of failure to learn in the child. But it is not just that the methods are attenuated and abused in practice. This book provides plenty of all three. But there are other more prosaic ways of interpreting the perpetually re-emerging exclusionary practices of education — ways that avoid any kind of intentionality. The knowledge-roots of special education3.
All of them interconnect and it serves little purpose, we repeatedly argued then, and continue to argue in the second edition, carefully to dissect out a particular disciplinary understanding. Direct Instruction, another technique in which great hopes were invested, rested in a hyper-rational set of ideas about teaching and learning formal skills. A challenging, badly needed book likely to be read for many years to come. As Thomas and Loxley rightly infer, a second edition supports their contention that there is indeed 'an appetite among professionals in education for ideas, argument and scholarship'. Despite the legislation, however, and despite the critical commentaries, there has, as the analysis of Skrtic 1991 has pointed out, continued to be a re-emergence of the kind of thinking which leads to ever newer forms of segregative and exclusionary practice.