Friday, March 7, 2014

Costly but valuable

Matt started Grade 1 at Primary School this year in January. This was a very significant milestone for us on many levels. One of the reasons, was that we were taking the next big step in our the pursuit of inclusive education.

These days people seem to get excited about inclusion, and most of our friends really celebrate the fact that we have found a mainstream school that sees the benefits of including Matt. This photo below of Matt and me on his first day at school got over 140 likes on Facebook. Now for us 140 likes is massive; we don't get more than 10 or 20 likes or comments on our usual posts.

It got me thinking. It is easy to press a button to say you LIKE inclusion. And I am glad that people do, but I have been wondering if people understand the personal cost, the energy, the different way of thinking, and the commitment that it takes to make inclusion happen.

Inclusion isn't the easy option in life because it is moving in the opposite direction from which society flows. We are naturally drawn to people who are like us. When every one is the same then it is easier to connect, to agree, get things done, and to understand each other. It is comfortable.

Treating every one with the same standard and in the same way is efficient. Our mechanised age has made us used to mass production and uniformity. Inclusion requires the opposite. It requires embracing difference, having different standards, allowing kids to do things in different ways in the same classroom.

Inclusion means not having the answers, it means figuring things out as you go along, and being OK with the fact that you are not always certain of the way ahead. It requires humility and curiosity.

It means being flexible and adapting the system to make space for the individual. It's a school system built around the thinking that each child will be an exception to the rule...rather than expecting each child to follow each rule.

Inclusion means learning to become comfortable with people who are different to you...who think differently, who act differently, who respond differently and don't always make sense. It is easy to press that Facebook LIKE button but the real way to make inclusion happen is in one's own life.

Are you putting yourself into situations where you can build friendships with those who are different, where it takes more effort, more energy and is less comfortable?

Are you exposing your children to people and situations that are beyond your and their familiarity; coaching them to celebrate that which is different and those who are different, and not fear it?

Yes, pursuing inclusion is costly, but that is what makes it so valuable.


Micha Oelsner said...

So inspiring, thank you Jax - and so proud of Matt!:) xx

Linda Martindale said...

Thanks for the way you have included your community in this journey, and Matt's life - you have always done such an amazing job at inviting us into your lives as a family, and Matt's life particularly. This is a poignant post and has given me lots to think about, as always. Thank you, Jax and Lloyd!

Ncumisa said...

Great post. I will definitely br taking up the challenge.

Cristina Fonseca said...

Wow, i love your words, Jacqui. If you don't mind, i will translate into Spanish and share with the Spanish families... And also with Alexia' s school, where she is also in inclusive education. Thank you for sharing that!