I love to read, understand and think about the views and experiences of others. They can help to shape opinions, thoughts, senses of where we are and what we do. Over the last week, I have read some experiences and opinions on the VI Talk Facebook group that have really made me think and evaluate what I feel about social inclusion; especially is application to those in education. I’m always looking around me for inspiration with my blogs and this one has really given me food for thought.
I read with awe how some parents really struggle in terms of trying to ensure that their children are fully included within school and general social life. The experiences that have been given so far are deeply concerning but at the same time they show how far society has to go in terms of accepting and embracing diversity and perceived differences. Children, on the whole, are given places in mainstream schools and inclusion is becoming the norm within education. However, in many cases, it seems that the authorities think that by simply placing someone in a school, the whole process of inclusion is complete and they leave it at that. Sadly, like the equal opportunities statements that are processed out by a number of employers, words and basic actions do not overcome social indifference and perceptions about visually impaired children and people are not going to change overnight by doing this. Social inclusion needs work, needs planning and needs action; not simply words, rhetoric and misplaced belief by those who control and implement it.
Parents and children alike up and down the land have faced difficulty and frustration, because authorities misunderstand the need to folow up inclusion by re-enforcing awareness and ability. True, inclusion has worked for some, which is great. However, it shows that such a widespread policy needs to be more consistent and realistic.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will discuss the dangers facing inclusion within education and look at the way funding cuts may be putting this at danger. It does not mean that I will be damning about the whole principle of inclusion. Far from it, because the principle and idealistic finality of this approach is superb and it gives us the chance to break down barriers of perception and misunderstanding. The problem is in its application and the way many children are missing out on not just educational opportunities but of positive and important social interactions with their peers.