Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hash Include

Hash Include

Inclusion seems to be the new buzzword. From financial inclusion (as mentioned by the Indian President Pratibha Patil on the eve of Independence Day) and sexual inclusion (by the amendment of section 377 of IPC) to inclusion (at least, by being a witness on national television) into the process of selecting a groom. Not to forget the evergreen first line of a C program.

However, this word was more popularly used in the context of education. It refers to a state where children with and without disabilities study together. As on everything else, there are people who support the notion and there are people who do not. While, as on everything else, most people don't really care. I am not going to discuss whether or not 'educational inclusion' should be practiced. The reason is that apart from the obvious cases we don't know who falls and who doesn't fall under 'retarded' category.

Though, in theory, we may be able to classify people in terms of those with and without disabilities, the fact remains (and as hinted by Pauli's exclusion principle) that every child is unique with his own learning curve. So, while the know-all work out whom to include in which category and fight for what level of 'inclusion' is optimal, there is one thing we can do without much controversy.

Let me explain. The process of children education has two end-points - the producers (teachers) who are the sources of knowledge and the consumers (children) who take in the knowledge. Of course, there is self learning and self exploration. But for children, it works the best if the source of knowledge is another person. So, instead of having all teacher-for-the-normals teaching to 'normal' schools, we should have some 'special teachers' also in the 'normal' schools.

There are cases where children who need special teachers are sent to 'normal' schools - probably, because they are not thought of as 'special'. These children, obviously (and by definition), don't do well in the school and are deemed 'slow learners'. This makes the matter worse. One way to address this is to have special teachers in all 'normal' schools. These teachers would help in identifying students with special needs. They would also make other teachers - who put a lot of unnecessary and virtual pressure (reminds you of your boss?) on the students - sensitive to the fact the every child is unique.

This is what i thought of when i (again) watched Taare Zameen Par. We need people to identify and deal with children with special needs. We need 'inclusion' among teachers. I am sure this is not something which will arouse a lot of debates. Nether would the serial-topper's mother be worried about her child slowing down in study because some of his classmates have special needs. This is one area where we not only lack inclusion but also lack debate on it.

Do share your views on the concept of inclusion applied to teachers.


vigneshjvn August 19, 2009 at 10:01 AM  

Completely agree with you. When I was in school, the "slow learners" used to have special remedial sessions on weekends to cope with the other students. I believe it did make some difference. But yes, that's just one school in Chennai - more schools adopting them would make a difference!

Mustaf August 20, 2009 at 5:39 PM  


A complex topic being put forth in a simple way. I agree to your point of view, but how do we get those "special teachers" who will identify the "special children". In "Tare Jameen Par", we know that the teacher himself was a special children in his childhood, so it was easier for him to identify the "special" kids. But a normal student when grows up and becomes a teacher , does he have the sensitivity to handpick the special children? Can we teach the technique of identifying "special children" to someone? I don't have an answer for this right way and this is where I feel the bigger challenge is.

Prashant Mehta August 20, 2009 at 6:05 PM  

@ Vigneshjvn

You are correct. It is not that the concept of 'remedial sessions' is not there - it's just that it's very rare.

Prashant Mehta August 20, 2009 at 6:07 PM  

@ Mustaf

It's tough to look for such 'special teacher'. But i got some clue from you question itself! Why not select once-upon-a-time-special-children? They should be more than happy to help

Krishna August 21, 2009 at 5:02 AM  

Food for thought!!!!
Identifying the special children with special need and special teacher catering them will be a tough ask..

Prashant Mehta August 21, 2009 at 8:37 PM  


It would be. But not as much as it seems. To start with we can start with 'including' the special teachers into mainstream schools.

Olivia March 14, 2011 at 3:12 PM  

Define "special"......
I donot mind special teachers in schools to identify special needs of special children.But I believe that is not the way to handle this problem.See all good students dont make good teachers.Neither will all special children grow up to identify wht other special childern need.Even if they do they will never be able to identify the problems related to each case and all other complications that follow.Someone maybe a slow learner due to dyslexia,others might have downs syndrome(mild manifestation) or even pscycological problems at home.And all these problems have different treatments and solutions.Hence what all schools need is a host of pscycologists who may have access to the children once or twice a week and who also may be available when a child seeks help himself or is not doing well in class.A thorough evaluation alone can provide direction to the child.We had this facility at our school wher in senior classes once a week a renowned pscylogist would visit us and councel us on how to handle pressure,difference between EQ andIQ,different types of behaviourial syndromes and so on...and she was also available to us on need basis.
I personally found the classes quite helpful and the advice pretty reasonable.I know all schools cannot hire the best of pscylogists but they can sure try to make psycology an important part of pedagogy or have some special trainings for the teachers so that instead of pressuring what most teachers call a "weak" child they can try to identify the problem.I donot mind whether "special teachers" do it or " normal ones"; proper training will make each teacher well equppied to see what problems their students might face and console them the process making every teacher "special" ,because I thoroughly believe every child is(special).

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