New book by Syracuse University education professor makes strong case for inclusive classrooms
New book by Syracuse University education professor makes strong case for inclusive classroomsMarch 20, 2007Patrick Farrellpmfarrel@syr.edu
“Widening the Circle” (Beacon Press, 2007), a new book by Mara Sapon-Shevin, professor of inclusive elementary and special education in Syracuse University’s School of Education, argues strongly for a broader implementation of inclusive education in all communities.
In the book, Sapon-Shevin uses powerful storytelling and argument to support a bold, even radical, vision for full classroom inclusion, laying out a moral and educational case for creating school communities in which all students — regardless of race, family background, disability, special needs or other perceived differences — are welcomed as full and valued members from the very start. She argues that only through inclusive schooling can children grow into caring, responsible citizens who connect deeply with others and see themselves as change agents in the world.
The author defines full inclusion as a matter of social justice: “… understanding — and believing — that the only way for young people to learn about living in diverse, democratic communities, is by being part of one,” writes Sapon-Shevin. At the same time, the book takes a stand against traditional special education models where children with special needs are often isolated in designated tracks until they are deemed “ready” to join their peers in the classroom.
Sapon-Shevin addresses head-on the many challenges and objections to the concept and implementation of inclusion in schools, from practical — space, time, teacher training, resources — to ideological. She also explores the myths and beliefs that often impede inclusion and inclusion practices. And she provides examples and strategies for making full inclusion successful, addressing issues of diversity, curriculum, pedagogy and classroom climate.