Inclusive Education: Stories of Success and Hope in a Canadian Context

By Kim Calder Stegemann and Angela AuCoin

Inclusion…uh-oh, there’s that word again. Classroom teachers, education assistants and administrators, as caring and compassionate professionals, work hard to meet the diverse learning and personal needs of the wide range of students we meet in our classrooms every day. We are inclusive in our practices. However, the practical implications of the “policy of inclusion” are not
always obvious.

In my province of British Columbia curriculum revisionists have promoted inclusion as the rationale for requiring all Grade 12 students to enrol in a single Grade 12 academic-oriented English course. Until now a second choice, Communications 12 (less academically oriented) has been offered. If inclusion means that all students will take English 12, why not also Calculus 12 or
Chemistry 12?

Inclusion has also been the rationale offered by some who have “fully integrated” a student with identified emotional issues (including punching and biting her peers) in a so-called
regular classroom.

In those and other contexts a useful resource is available. Inclusive Education: Stories of Success and Hope in a Canadian Context by Kim Calder Stegemann and Angela Aucoin (Pearson, 2018) is a concise text that while written in textbook format (with chapter questions at the end of each chapter) and certainly appropriate for teacher education programs, offers a lot to recommend it to all of us in the education field.

  • It is written by Canadians about the Canadian context.
  • It is succinct and clearly written. It avoids “edu-speak” and, for example, reviews the history of treatment of people with special needs—from the Middle Ages to today—in 1.5 pages.
  • The book covers a wide range of inclusive education topics (Universal Design for Learning, Response to Intervention, Autism Spectrum, Behaviour Reduction Protocols, etc.) in both elementary and secondary settings through case studies involving teachers, education assistants, parents, and students. In that way it avoids being an “ivory tower” prescription, and instead relies upon actual school-based examples.
  • At the end of each chapter the book offers “Useful Websites.”

Finally, and perhaps the most refreshing conclusion is that the authors contend that “inclusive education is about removing barriers to school success for all of our children in their neighbourhood or community school. Inclusive education is not just a meshing of general and special education systems. It is about creating something new.”

About Kim Manning
Kim Manning is a teacher in British Columbia and a member of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF).

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