Inclusive classrooms are a fairly new, educational concept. In the inclusive classroom, children with mild to moderate forms of disabilities are included in the regular classroom with children that do not have disabilities. As the practice has become more widely used, we have begun seeing a number of benefits from it. Five of the most distinct advantages of inclusive classrooms can be described as the following.
Non-Disabled Teach Disabled
In the inclusive classroom, one of the chief advantages of having mild to moderately disabled children in the traditional classroom is that these disabled children are able to learn vast amounts from their non-disabled peers. In one way, the disabled child can learn from the other children by seeing their methods of study, retention, and development. Likewise, this close proximity allows the disabled child an intimate look at proper and improper behavior in non-disabled children. This particularly helps in children with emotional or psychological disabilities.
Disabled Teach Non-Disabled
The inverse of the above advantage to inclusion is also true in that non-disabled children can stand to learn a great deal from their disabled peers. With all of the misconception regarding disability in our society, one of the best ways to learn about it as well as those with disabilities is by being close to and interacting with them on a regular basis. This learning experience may be equal to if not greater than the above in its ethical and educational value.
The PBS.org article, The Benefits Of Inclusive Education, provides a good rundown as to the community-forming benefits of inclusion in the classroom. As stated, children learn more from each other than adults. They also form bonds and the fruits of young friendships and relationships. The differences between students is then acknowledged and respected within the group; diversity in team and community identity is accepted and even enjoyed. Teachers can also stand to learn a great deal in sociological and psychological aspects when a part of such a communion of students.
Studies Back Inclusion
Anyone with an agenda can certainly just state that educational inclusion practices are better than non-inclusion and that we should just therefore accept that as fact. However, now that inclusion is no longer a newborn concept, research has had time to analyze and interpret the results. So far, the overwhelming evidence suggests that classroom inclusion yields much better academic and behavioral results in their disabled attendees than do non-inclusive approaches. Results like these are tough to go against.
In times past, children were split up with the disabled going to separate classrooms from the non-disabled. Each disabled child in attendance would then entitle the school to additional funding in order to cover the increased difficulty in teaching through that disability. Schools still receive this additional funding for the disabled in attendance but can now include them in the regular, less costly classroom. While additional teacher’s aides and other resources of cost may be needed in the classroom at this point, there is still a massive savings experienced via the pricey, specialized classroom’s extinction. The resulting surplus funding and resources can then be utilized in other areas of the school in need.
Times have changed quite a bit in the last several decades of educational evolution. Inclusion is one, significant adaptation of this modernized system. For more information on inclusive classrooms and similar content, you are strongly encouraged to visit the US Department of Education website.