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The Learning Institute

The Learning Institute

My first year as an Inclusive Education Student

Kate reflects on her experiences during the first year of her foundation degree.

September 2019.  In a room full of education students, I am starting my student life.  I will be studying Inclusive Education.  I know what that means – it’s all about Special Educational Needs, right? 

Not exactly.

So far, I have learned that Inclusive Education is literally that - education which is inclusive of all children.  Children who have SEN may have more obvious needs to consider in the classroom, but children are more than simply a sum of their diagnoses.  They also have a race, a gender, an age, a social class which all impact on their education.  Confused yet?

Don’t be.

The simplest part is that all those things, or the effect of them at least, is socially constructed.   Inequality only exists because of the way our society is built.

A person is not born disabled, they are disabled by society.  Put simply, a disability is not a ‘thing’ that someone can have.  But someone might be disabled by the society around them if they are expected to climb stairs when they cannot use their legs, for example.  Once I saw the problem of inequality lying with society rather than the individual, I began to start thinking ‘inclusively’.

Little did I know at the start of the academic year how much I would learn.

This year has been fascinating for me personally: rewiring my brain after leaving it idle for too long, exploring new concepts and ideas, and challenging my own constructions of issues which will be vital to me in my future career. 

But my own development (while interesting to me, of course) has been rather overtaken by worldwide events recently.  In the limited social atmosphere of lockdown, social media has taken on greater importance and the world outside my valley seems to be a series of hashtags now.  #CoViD19 #newnormal #BLM

Hashtags are important to us.  They are a useful means of filing our collective musings and gauging public opinion, but the repercussions of what we discuss on social media spread far wider than that.  We don’t know yet what effects #CoViD19 will have on the children we will be working with, never mind the historical and ongoing needs connected to #BLM.  When we get back to some kind of normality, the concepts introduced to me through Inclusive Education will be more important than ever and I am so excited to be a part of the #newnormal and education #beyondthehashtag.