After responding to a piece by The Sunday Edition on violence in elementary schools, Anna MacQuarrie, Inclusion International’s Human Rights Consultant, was invited on air to give an interview on inclusive education.
Anna was listening to a radio panel discussion on education which welcomed input from parents who are angry because their children are being affected by violent outbursts. Many of them were questioning the value of inclusive education. Anna, a mother of three children who cause disruptions at school, wrote in an email to The Sunday Edition that she is frustrated by the continued questioning of whether inclusive education is worthwhile. She firmly believes it is a right.
She explains: “I think the important distinction here is that what we are experiencing is not inclusion. Largely, what most of us have is basically integration 2.0. We have to be looking more innovatively at what intentional inclusion looks like in our classrooms, and it’s not working right now because most of us aren’t actually experiencing it”.
During the interview MacQuarrie describes how her children are easily overwhelmed with anxiety due to sensory issues. The interviewer asks Anna why her children are better behaved at home and she responds by saying that what we have been pushing for and advocating for often is not put in place proactively. She explains how the classroom contains many noises and triggers. She has been involved in ongoing conversations with her children’s school, but says most educational systems are in crisis management mode and do not have a preventive approach, one that looks at what the triggers are for children who attack others and creates an environment that is more conducive to learning for everyone.
She argues that when Inclusive Education is considered a right it will remove the sense of pitting parents against each other and the notion of “your kid is the problem so your kid has to go”. She states vehemently “It can’t be my kids against your kids. It has to be, how are we building a system that works better for everyone?”
Anna’s understanding on this topic as an expert and a parent is uniquely insightful and we encourage everyone to listen to the interview here.