Inclusive Education: Opportunity for Learning from Practice and Thinking Different

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The project DIVERSA was created by the Rodrigo Mendes Institute and aims to collaborate to the inclusive education field through the production and exchange of knowledge. It is based on the premise that there is value in recapturing positive experiences on the subject, even when those are brief and fragmented. Thus, teachers and administrators can compare the similarities and differences between their own experience and case studies. This comparing exercise is good because it may confirm, amend, propose alternatives, provide references and show that a complex project such as a school open to all takes time, patience and confidence in the project’s feasibility. To accomplish things, or to witness accomplishments, and to recapitulate significant parts, comparing similarities and differences, all that allow for reflection, increased awareness, positive criticism, and a new take on our outlook on a given topic. Because of this we now can know about and act upon a concept, which is now accepted as a fundamental principle – inclusive education.

To do or to represent, to reconstruct, to compare, to reflect and to make something a subject of study and implementation in practice are forms reflection. Thanks to them we can abstract, or highlight, select, differentiate, deny or affirm the worth of a paradigm non-inclusive education. It is also possible to, simultaneously, create procedures, discuss ideas, highlight differences, analyze successful experiences, and above all recognize the value of inclusive education.

The basic premise of inclusive education is that there is an interdependence by which everything is part of the same whole, without blurring or denying differences and uniqueness. Therefore, it is important to create complementary and inseparable relationships. This is an “interactionistic” approach that believes in the influence and value of the encounter between things that complement each other; is it not so in life and knowledge as well? Something vital for us like oxygen, for example, is outside of us, is produced by stellar ashes of which, we were once part, and will again be part of in the future. Something important to us, like communication, for example, only finds his other half, when what is in one place (books or other people) is transferred to another place (ourselves), or vice versa. And what was once ignorance becomes knowledge.

But it is not enough to just interact, even in an interdependent way, if this does not translate into or promote improvement in people and related things. This is the approach favored by a kind of education that is not satisfied with merely transmitting information, but does so in a better way, which is beneficial and appropriate for all of those who receive it. And to consider the students, no matter their conditions or limitations when it comes to their education, this is the big development we are facing this century. Their inclusive condition is just a name that we created to remember the eternal bond between education, educators and students, trained for a life that follows within us, and after us.

Lino de Macedo is a Professor at the University of Sao Paulo Psychology Institute, and a member of the Sao Paulo Academy of Psychology. He teaches and conducts research on developmental psychology applied to school learning. Prof. Macedo has supervised over 70 Ph.D. theses and dissertations. He published "Pedagogical Essays: How to build a school for all" which argues for inclusive education in schools from a general perspective.

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