Paradoxes of inclusion
Skrivet 2019-03-11 09:41 av |
We cannot include anyone if he/she does not want to be included. On the other hand, we cannot include those that do not adhere to the basic values that inclusion involves. There is a paradox in the inclusion idea which means that inclusion always has its limits, because some do not want to / cannot be included.
To put it in a more personal perspective: No one can force me into a community I don't want to belong to. There are some communities I cannot be included in because I do not share the norms and values of these communities.
An example can further clarify what I mean with the proposition that not everyone can be included. If we mean that inclusion represents an affirmation of equality and a belief in people's equal value, inclusion almost by definition cannot include people who think that people who express a certain form of values or belong to a specific cultural/ethnic group have less human value.
Thus we cannot expect to build communities that include everyone. In the compulsory school, this fundamental paradox is reinforced because the student is obliged to attend. This means that the school must put a lot of effort into trying to include all students. We can nevertheless expect that there will be students who do not want to or that cannot be included in the community.
Paradox 1: Inclusion segregates
The paradox expressed in the title is clearly visible on the global arena. For example, when the EU strives to become more inclusive, it is obvious that everyone does not feel at home in this community. For a long time, it appears that a democratic, socioliberal political project has emerged victorious. Values that have been central to this project are individuals' equal value, human rights, globalism, democracy and, at best, an idea that everyone should feel part of society.
It now seems as if it is an undeniable fact that a relatively large proportion of the populations in many countries do not want or can be included in this socioliberal project. .Instead, they argue for a different set of concerns such as nationalism, ethnocentricity, and traditional values, often involving a desire to live life as it always was lived. In the post-industrial society, structural changes are constantly occurring which break the possibility for people to live the life they want to live. Progress marginalizes groups and individuals. Some who say no to the social-liberal project are xenophobic and others are pure racists but far from everyone. Many simply feel that progress and the good life are not for them.
Personally, I think it is devastating if we do not carefully monitor the fundamental values that are part of the social-liberal project. At the same time, of course, it is fatal if large groups of citizens are emerging who cannot identify with such a project. It can be people who reasonably argue that family and nation are values that have, and should have, significance, and which can at the same time include the idea that nations do not necessarily contradict a commitment to the global, over those who simply feel outside and marginalized to extremes such as racists.
If the fundamental values of society are challenged, it will be even more important to create an inclusive school where pupils with different backgrounds and conditions learn to work and work together and are prepared for the democratic life. This question leads us to paradox 2. The discussion primarily concerns the Swedish school system but is relevant to many other school systems.
Paradox 2: A society that claims to be inclusive has created an increasingly exclusive school system
Ideas about how society should be designed and organized are passed on to new generations, not least through the educational system. Put differently, if we want a society that is inclusive, we must also have a school that is inclusive and that advocates inclusion. The school act states, among other things, that the students should be prepared to participate in society, which presuppose that they are and feel included in the school.
The school today, however, is increasingly resembling the old parallel school system. That is, the high and middle classes tend to gather in the same schools while students from homes where parents have less resources in the form of money and cultural capital end up in others (see link below). Pupils with disabilities, including those from privileged groups, tend to become the short straw. The second paradox means that the need for a more inclusive society is paralleled by a school system that develops in a more segregated direction. This increased segregation involves in Sweden not only the issue about where students are educated but also the educational attainments of students with different backgrounds.
When we more than ever have to create communities in schools for students with different backgrounds, more and more walls are thus created between different groups. As much as freedom of choice, it emerges to be about the FREEDOM TO REMOVE. At a time when schools are to show results, pupils who are not high-performing and who are resource-intensive are seen as a burden in many schools.
At the beginning of the 20th century pupils in need of extra support were described as "an extra weightt" that slowed down the other students' progress. As a lecturer, one could before use this quote to be slightly ironic about the intolerance and constraint of the time and little could be thought that similar ideas would come back with renewed power.
When there is no natural place for pupils with disabilities in the ordinary schools and classrooms, it is natural that parent groups call for special solutions. If diagnoses are then required to gain access to support and resources, the demand for these will also increase.
A final word
There are two different kinds of paradoxes I have discussed. The first one is, so to speak, inevitable, we simply cannot establish inclusion without at the same time excluding someone. However, communities can be made more or less inclusive. The second paradox I discussed is not inevitable. Here it is not a paradox in a logical sense but rather something paradoxical: Politicians and others in Sweden who advocate an inclusive society have made possible the development of an increasingly segregating school system.
Link to blog about the decrease in inclusion at the system level in Sweden.