3 Thins I Learned:
Originally, I hadn’t put much thought into the benefits of inclusive classrooms. My understanding was that by being around people of other abilities, students would feel more comfortable with difference. This “comfort” only benefited the disabled students, and that was enough. Boy, was I not getting the full picture. For disabled students, learning with able-bodied students is less restricting and gives them greater expectations. Many times in none inclusive classrooms, the bar is set low, discluding disabled students from accessing higher help such as speech therapists or guidance counselors.
Inclusive classrooms benefit able-bodied students as well. Statistics show that when disabled students learn alongside able-bodied students, everyone benefits. For the able-bodied students, when they help guide and teach another individual, they are much more engaged in what they are learning. They then become peer role models, capable of breaking stereotypes and stigmas, and building relationships.
Another thing I learned is that there is a growing concern for accessibility. Unfortunately, so, so many businesses have yet to make themselves accessible to everyone. Things are improving though. I think we would be surprised by how much potential there is for change if we provided such businesses with just a bit of “encouragement”.
2 Connections I Made:
Since grade one, one of my classmates was a high spectrum autistic student. When she first began going to school with us, like in Dan Habib’s experience, I was afraid of her. I had never seen a child act and sound the way this student did. Over time, we got used to her differences. It wasn’t until grade four that our class gained another differently abled student, this time with assburgers. This student had more capabilities and further opened my classmates and my’ understanding of disabled people. I am fortunate that I had the privilege of having such classmates. I have come to learn that very few people have these kinds of experiences and interactions.
Unfortunately, through high school, our interactions with our disabled classmates became very limited. As we progressed through the level 10, 20, and 30 courses, these students began other courses that would better prepare them for their future. We were eventually separated completely, only seeing each other at lunch or when they would come and take our classrooms’ garbage out. I have no idea what those individuals are doing now, perhaps they are still taking people’s garbage out (and maybe that is what they enjoy), maybe they are still in our high school’s program for special education, or maybe they have moved on and found new and possibly better interests. Either way, this connection- that really is a connection now lost- saddens me and has made me realize the importance of inclusivity.
1 Question I Still Have:
Is it possible for every classroom to be completely inclusive? Even in high school?