We are in the XXI century, and we can say that education has advanced a lot in recent decades in terms of Students With Specific Educational Support Needs (ACNEAE). In the last two centuries we have gone through four states: exclusion, segregation, integration and inclusion. We are going to focus on the last two: integration and inclusion. Which leads us to wonder, Have we achieved the real inclusion of all children in the classroom?
Before asking this or other questions, it is important to understand the difference between integration and inclusion:
- What is integration?
In the case of Students With Specific Educational Support Needs (ACNEAE), integration is a methodology for incorporate children into the mainstream education system. But not only in the center, but also in their classrooms. That is, that both students with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and not participate in the different classes of our educational centers, they are fully part of the activities that take place in the classroom.
In certain areas, teachers adapt the contents, explaining concepts or giving them the corresponding session, either by taking the children out of the class or by bringing the specialists into the classroom.
- What is inclusion?
Inclusion is when children with any type of difficulty are included in the routine of their class and learn the same content at the same time as all their peers. Inclusive education is based on the educational programs that have to be adapted to the characteristics of each child, and not the children to these. This means being able to receive all the necessary supports so that all students are able to fully participate in the day-to-day running of the centers, favoring their presence and participation in them.
Inclusive education is the best way for a student with Special Educational Needs it has to learn and benefit, in turn, from being in society. In this way, other children know and understand what people with disabilities are like, whatever they may be, and this is nothing more than learning in diversity.
Once we understand the difference between these two concepts, we can ask ourselves if inclusion truly exists in schools. If we focus on Spanish schools, which are the ones I know best, a negative response must be highlighted. And it is that, although we have advanced a lot, we still have many things to learn. What tools can we use to achieve real inclusion in the classroom?
1. Change the methodology
While the world is changing rapidly, education is becoming anchored in the past. The methodology that is applied is from the 19th century, teachers from the 20th and children from the 21st. We must give a 180º turn to early childhood education: teach by projects, outside of books and also tablets.
2. Not 'primarize' early childhood education
We demand that children in early childhood education learn to read and write, but it may be that many are not prepared for it, and this does not mean that they have any difficulties; What an eye, we all have them.
It should be remembered that, for example in Spain, the first two cycles of infantile are not compulsory stages, something that both families and teachers forget. This means that children who enter primary school have to make a curricular adaptation.
3. Improve the transition from infant to primary
The change from pre-school to primary education is increasingly nil. We are educating children who are increasingly independent, with less creativity, with little initiative and without any option to make mistakes. On the other hand, everyone can read and write at 5 years old, paradoxical, don't you think?
On the other hand, from 1st to 6th grade they work in practically the same way and with a methodology from the last century. In this educational system there is no place for students who go outside the norm. It is also important to bear in mind that an 11-year-old is not ready to go to high school, the transition from primary to secondary would have to be delayed.
4. Train teachers in practice
In digital competence, educational needs, active methodologies, neuroscience, neuro didactics, but not from theory, but in a practical way. It is important that in addition to theory, teaching students know how to apply it in a practical way in the classroom. In this way, when teachers face the different cases that will be in their class, they will know how to treat each of the children in the precise way. But what is really essential is that they have a vocation.
We must be more realistic and not compare ourselves with other countries: we are not Finland, much less Finnish, for better and for worse. It is better to put solutions, so let's start the house with the foundations and create real centers with real children, with their different families and needs. To achieve educational inclusion it is necessary to implement changes little by little, and always bear in mind that no child acquires knowledge in the same way.
We all have a talent, we are all unique; Why not shake and see what happens?
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