Inclusive education: readings and reflections

3rd December 2004 at 00:00
INCLUSIVE EDUCATION: READINGS AND REFLECTIONS. Edited by Gary Thomas and Mark Vaughan. Open University. Press pound;18.99

This book is a first: a set of readings that illustrate the background to and nature of moves towards inclusion, placing it in its historical and political context. This is evident in the first chapter, which has excerpts from Thomas Paine, RH Tawney, John Rawls and Martin Luther King.

The readings are organised in five sections: the context (rights, participation and justice), arguments against segregation, legislation, reports and statements and inclusion in action. With 51 excerpts in a book of fewer than 200 pages, many are short. However, the strong voice provided by the editors, who introduce and comment on the excerpts, is distinctive.

This book will be very useful for students of the field, whether at undergraduate or postgraduate level. The historical excerpts, especially in the section on arguments against segregation, are a rich reminder of how far the system has moved since the 1960s.

My reservations are about the editors' voices and the glaring omission of literature critical of inclusion. It is interesting that the arguments against segregation are historical, and contain no excerpts from current pieces that call into question full inclusion.

This is especially notable because the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education charter on inclusion defines it as compatible with part-time withdrawal of children with special needs from mainstream classrooms. For some, this position is tantamount to internal segregation. It calls into question the nature and limits of inclusion and requires an examination of the social values that drive education systems.

Brahm Norwich

Professor of educational psychology and special educational needs,

University of Exeter

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