All inclusive?

By Mathias Maurer, January 2014

Dear Reader, 

If we frame the concept of inclusion widely enough, we can be left in no doubt: our society creates separation. For the little ones it is crèches and kindergartens, for the elderly and the ill it is old people’s homes and hospitals, for school-age children it is school which itself sorts and selects, and finally for the so-called people with disabilities it is the special-needs institutions. Where do we still find the grandmother in the rocking chair taking pleasure in family events? Where is the “confused” person still allowed to run shouting through the streets when he suffers another attack? The social trend is obvious even at a brief glance: it is the exclusion, indeed, the disappearance of whole population groups from daily life. It is lip service to say it is normal to be different; this is no longer the social reality, and definitely not in public spaces. On the other hand, competent and professional specialists look after the specific needs of these people because we assume that specialised care and targeted support is the best way to ensure their wellbeing. Everyone has a right to (their own) exclusion.

But it seems to me that there are two key questions in the inclusion debate: from the perspective of the child and his or her specific needs, is inclusive or exclusive care discriminating or not? Joint schooling can ignore the individual needs and developmental possibilities of a child as much as separate schooling. After all, every measure we take can only serve the goal of the greatest possible participation in the life of society as a whole. The second question is this: how open is the “provision”? Children, with or without disabilities, do not develop in school-related or educational pigeon-holes. Where are the common spheres of life and learning which do not demand too much of those with and without disabilities? Where are the spheres in which they can support one another? A more academically oriented Waldorf school in an urban environment will only be able to offer limited possibilities for taking pupils with disabilities in the absence of substantial staff, specialist and physical changes. On the other hand, it will be easier for an integrative school in the country, if only because of the additional space. It seems to me that a good compromise between the right to inclusion and the right to exclusion is close cooperation between the various school forms – if possible on a single school campus as put into practice at the Parzival School in Karlsruhe or the “Waldorf Triangle” Mannheim. They, like “multigenerational buildings”, have embarked on the way to a new society.

Mathias Maurer


No comments

Add comment

* - required field