Thursday, 5 February 2009
Library Thursdays: Widening the Circle
A couple of weeks ago we blogged about inclusion resources, but a book has just arrived in the library that I feel should be mentioned. Widening the Circle: The Power of Inclusive Classrooms by Mara Sapon-Shevin (Beacon Press: Boston, 2007) is an inspiring book about why inclusion is so important and what needs to happen so that it can work. Sapon-Shevin makes a case that inclusion in education is an absolute necessity if we want the world to be able to work together and solve its problems. However, inclusion is not really workable without changing the current educational system for all. She addresses the difficulties facing inclusion--the culture of competitive learning, misconceptions, lack of supports but she also stresses the benefits for all (backed by research). And she gives examples of classrooms that are successfully inclusive. She talks about strategies such as Circle of Friends, You can't say you can't play, Responsive Classrooms, Cooperative Classrooms, Differentiated Instruction, Peer Teaching etc. She also mentions important indirect elements--inclusion in extra-curricular activities, a culture of valuing diversity, and teaching social skills, that help make inclusion work. The book is very readable and there are interesting discussions of issues. I especially enjoyed the examination of the philosophy that in successful inclusion you can't tell that anyone in the class has a disability. (The author argues against this.) I did enjoy the book and hope it will be read by people who can change the culture and structure of classrooms. Parents interested in inclusion or education will find it interesting, but I hope that teachers, student teachers, principals and anyone else who can make changes happen will also take the time to read it.
To borrow this book or any other in the library, email us.
Also available from the library:
You Can't Say You Can't Play by Vivian Gussin Paley
Circle of Friends DVD or book.
Downs Ed have online a great book on differentiating the curriculum.