Nowadays, the US society undergoes the period of cultural expansion, and the fast pace of social diversification raises the topical issue of equality in education. Multiple international education standards and goals emphasize the importance of inclusive school environments in the process of social integration. With this in mind, I would like to talk about a few potential benefits of inclusion.
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One of the most significant benefits of inclusion is that it helps culturally, linguistically, and physically diverse students to fulfill their developmental needs more efficiently than isolated education models do. As stated by McGovern (2015), the IDEA requires US public schools to arrange inclusive class contexts to support the learning process of students with disabilities and benefit them academically. Additionally, the research evidence reveals that social interactions experienced by disabled children in inclusive classes positively affect their psycho-emotional state and improve their overall performance. The case study conducted by Staub (2005) makes it clear that relationships between disabled and non-disabled children help them to generate more positive emotions, which are usually not observed in restrictive school environments. In this way, inclusion impacts the overall condition of children with disabilities in a favorable way.
Secondly, inclusive settings allow students with special needs and their families to become part of the community. Being involved in a regular classroom can help students with special needs to fit in the society in the future more easily. Inclusion facilitates the development of vital socialization skills, independence, and autonomy in those students. It is especially important during early childhood development because, throughout the period of attending the primary school, students undergo a substantial stage of cognitive, emotional, and psychological development and gain awareness of their social, personal, and academic roles – it is the time when children form competencies needed for future success (Pasta et al., 2013). Comparing to inclusive environments, non-inclusive classrooms do not provide sufficient opportunities for students to experience life to its full extent. Moreover, it is observed that families having their children in inclusive schools feel more integrated and accepted in their community as they begin to interact more often with other parents whose children attend classes (Jeter, n.d.).
Since an inclusive learning environment implies the presence of a drastic difference in students’ abilities and needs, it allows teachers to obtain greater professional experience and achieve a higher level of expertise. Through interaction with diverse students, educators learn about children’s development and raise awareness of their specific needs (Pasta et al., 2013). The alignment of personal experience and knowledge gained through educator-child interactions helps teachers to arrange instruction practices and activities that are suitable for the skills and psychological states of all students. Understanding children’s needs allow teachers to generate a better sense of diversity and social responsibility and comprehend the significance of their own social role more clearly.
Inclusion teaches nondisabled students to respect diversity, be more compassionate, and responsive. The placement of students with special needs in mainstream classes may favorably impact their peers. One of the case studies reveals that the active involvement of nondisabled students in the process of class management can help to improve the behavior of children with different learning disabilities who may act in an “inconsistent” and unpredictable way at first (Wurzburg, n.d.). In the case of Peter, a student with Down’s syndrome, who was very distracting and even aggressive when he just entered the inclusive class, peer-management stimulated significant enhancement in his behavior.
Other students established a dialog with him and tried and are patient when he acted in an abnormal way (Wurzburg, 1992). The students thus learned to be more attentive and tolerant. Through active participation in Peter’s learning process and close communication with him, they learned to resolve conflicts and cultivated sensitivity towards the needs of other people. Inclusion provides an opportunity for non-disabled students to obtain a real-life experience of interaction with people who differ from them and develop a greater awareness of the issues associated with social differences, inequality, and inclusion.
Inclusive education plays an essential role in promoting social equality. The school is a vital institution that provides the skills and knowledge needed for the improvement of all spheres of life and support of healthy social practices. The classroom itself represents a micro-social environment in which children learn about commonly accepted values and beliefs, which consequently affect their personal identities, decisions, and actions. Nowadays, when a lot of stereotypes about disability, gender, or race are both explicitly and implicitly promoted via numerous information sources, inclusion may be regarded as core to the achievement of high-quality education for diverse students and the development of more integrated and friendly society.
According to UNICEF (2011), inclusive education does not imply a mere efficient allocation of resources and additional investments but refers to the fundamental shift in values and beliefs on which the current education system is based. When the majority may tend to believe that people with disabilities have a limited capacity in developing skillfulness and knowledge, the inclusive school environment provides them with a chance to achieve their full potential and generate a positive self-image. At the same time, observing a disabled person’s achievement may help to dispel existing stereotypes in other members of the school community. In this way, inclusion may stimulate the acceptance of the fact that any individual can participate in advancing the development of the entire world.
Overall, inclusion has essential meaning because it aims to support diversity and provide disabled, economically disadvantaged individuals, as well as children from minor ethnic and racial groups, with equal opportunities to become well-educated and valuable members of our society. It helps children to develop positive self-identities and improve skills of social interactions. Therefore, we should strive to make our schools more inclusive.
Jeter, R. (n.d.). The benefits of inclusion in early childhood programs. Web.
McGovern, M. (2015). Least restrictive environment: Fulfilling the promises of idea. Widener Law Review, 21(1), 117-137.
Pasta, T., Mendola, M., Prino, L. E., Longobardi, C., & Gastaldi, F. G. (2013). Teachers’ perception of the relationship with pupils having specific learning disabilities. Interpersona, 7(1), 125-137.
Staub, D. (2005). Inclusion and the other kids: Here’s what research shows so far about inclusion’s effect on nondisabled students. Web.
UNICEF. (2011). The Right of children with disabilities to education: A rights-based approach to inclusive education in the CEECIS region. Web.
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Goodwin, T. C. (Producer), & Wurzburg, G. (Director). (1992). Educating Peter [Motion picture]. United States: Direct Cinema Limited.