The debate on inclusive education is bound to yield conflicting findings. Based on findings already reported in the research, and diversity in the process of inclusion, the field offers much scope for further study. First, the extent to which inclusion benefits students with various special needs whether they be academic, social, and functional in terms of life skills outcomes are yet to be ascertained. It is vital to assess this outcome of special education with reference to attitudes of the teaching community, infrastructure development, political back up and social supports to come to a conclusion about the benefits of special education in the inclusive setting. Special education research must hence intensify its emphasis upon student outcomes in relation to the general education classroom.
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The extent of teachers reception of the concept must be surveyed among students with special needs and the general student community to further generate data on the validity of the surveys taken on teachers. Only a two sided approach will help control against the urge to give socially acceptable views on survey questions as opposed to actual views to inclusion to ensure its success.
This millennium is special in itself as it’s an era of accountability. It would be interesting to study the teaching community’s expectations of student outcomes for students of different disability types and degrees. This study may hold particular significance as it helps assess the attitude of teachers towards students with different types of special needs. In this study we have assessed teacher’s views on inclusivity, on collaborative efforts and improvement strategies and seen the overall gender based bias in views on these issues. Although supported by recent statistics, more research is needed to confirm these findings. Further, there is a need to further conduct correlative investigations on teachers’ attitudes and opinions of inclusion in relation to student outcomes in order to better understand how the concept of inclusion has been understood, evolved and practiced in today’s educational forefront. It is apparent that teachers do have preferences and significant attitudes relating to the populations of students to whom they provide inclusive education. Both quantitative and qualitative attitude research may further delineate practical approaches to serve various student populations effectively.
Education is not the only sector struggling with the tension between social justice-in rhetoric and social justice-in-practice. The education system has long moved past the conventional beliefs and stigmas that “girls can’t do that” and the “boys can’t do this” debates. Even in this age of globalization where gender inequality is taboo however, many teachers are protective of their ‘turf’ in the curriculum and want to deny access to the curriculum by some learners. Hence the gender bias in education is still a topic whose limits are yet to be exhausted.
Teacher stress in general and inclusive education is another field to be considered. In an age where stress and its ill effects are listed in every known field, the burden of inclusive education if any has to be assessed on the teaching community, the children with special needs and the general student population. In support of this theory, research shows that teachers feel ill equipped at times when they deal with the varied range of needs even though they play a key role in changing a student’s life (Forlin, Hattie & Douglas, 1996). McGowan (1984, cited in Trent, 2002) estimated that approximately one quarter of teachers were experiencing acute stress and burnout.
There is little evidence to suggest that teacher stress has diminished over subsequent decades. Though teachers play a major key role in shaping up the student generation, inadequacy and the feeling of frustration are the potential barriers to inclusive education. Such challenges are compounded where curriculum and assessment demands may appear inflexible. Pedagogical decision making is another key area of research that has to be widely explored. The real key to inclusivity is through wise pedagogical decisions that will save teachers from the stress of an unbending curriculum and the students from its burden.
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In fact, advocates of inclusion do not tend to focus upon inclusive education as a product but as a process (Robertson, 1999; Booth & Ainscow, 2002; Winzer et al, 2000) founded very much on the democratic principles of mutual respect and collaboration (Jacobson, 2000; Marshall et al, 2002). Inclusive processes are becoming central to school effectiveness research and development. School communities must be invited to reduce the barriers to learning and participation through a collaborative investigation of the school’s cultures, policies and practices and to set new priorities for development (Booth & Ainscow, 2002). Hence the identification of these barriers and devising methods to overcome them gain prime importance if we expect inclusivity to gain success and acceptance. Initiatives for school effectiveness are attracting global attention for their potential to build collaborative learning communities that support individual learner success.
A research-based framework must be laid down to guide teacher learning and development toward school improvement. Social justice, equity and inclusivity must be considered as the foreground and measures to investigate relationships between enhanced student outcomes and school-based management practices, both social and academic (Hayes, Lingard & Mills, 2001) must be devised. The need to focus on alignment of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment are central to effective schooling. Educators need to shift their pedagogical focus from testing and reporting on outcomes to supporting and improving outcomes from schooling. The development of positive and self-fulfilling values within all participants in education depends on building learner confidence within a supportive learning environment. This is true for all learners whether they are experienced teachers participating in school improvement processes or whether they are learners who have been disadvantaged within the educational system.
For inclusivity to gain its full strength, the educational system should be equipped with teaching fraternity with the following attributes that include: awareness of the history of injustice as a result of discrimination against diversity, recognition and acceptance, (Henderson, 2001); and the ability to collaboratively implement innovations. A system with these attributes will be able to accept difference as the norm and enrich schooling through sensitivity and responsiveness to the diverse contexts of students’ lives.
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