Inclusion Training for Early Childhood Education
Purdue et. Al (2009) report that thought a culture of inclusion is present in many early childhood centers in New Zealand; there are still those whom experience discrimination and exclusion. This researcher, with a group of dedicated teachers who has gone through the journey to a full inclusion, offers many possibilities and suggestions about doing inclusion differently in the early childhood setting. Many of their suggestions can transcend borders and can be used in many western school systems.
The researchers suggest that a broad focus be taken on different perspectives of the disability. These perspectives need to include bi-culturalism, multi=culturalism, gender, sexualities, and socio-economic status. There is also a need to look at how you view a difference from the norm. When a difference is viewed as a deficit and not as a single entity of the whole child it can create barriers that can discourage discussion about how the deficit is perceived by family, culture, and most importantly, at the early child development. This might create a focus on reaction instead of the proactive procedures.
Purdue and his team began teaching student teachers by engaging them with issues around difference as diversity or difference as a deficit. This would allow the students to think critically about their own perceptions of difference and deficits before they enter the classroom. This would hopefully lead to the student’s conclusion that their own beliefs could be part of the problem instead part of the solution. With this therein lies a problem. While students are encouraged to uphold and respect one’s own beliefs, the transferring of the idea sometimes went against the student’s pre-conceived stance on the subject. If the student did not believe the teachers point of view, he or she could be deemed not being inclusive to the teacher.
Purdue (2009) cites Ballard as contending that student teachers should understand socio-cultural, historical, and ideological contexts that enable oppressive and discriminatory educational environments. He suggests that teacher education training include training that allows for the teacher to analyze discriminatory practices and create policy and procedures to avoid them. This would allow teachers to be proactive and would be beneficial in the creation of policies that all children would be included.
Purdue, K., Gordon-Burns, D., Gunn, A., Madden, B., & Surtees, N. (2009). Supporting inclusion in early childhood settings: some possibilities and problems for teacher education.International Journal of Inclusive Education, 13(8), 805-815
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