Exploring and reflecting on meaningful pathways to inclusive and personalized learning and living for students with complex developmental needs because education should prepare all students for a lifetime of inclusion, connection, growth and learning.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Contribution of Being

We know the research is out there to show that other students do not miss out when students with disabilities are included but what matters more is what others gain when students with disabilities are included.  The Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network website (http://plan.ca/future-planning/contribution/) outlines that there are two ways for people to contribute.  The first is one that we are all well aware of and one that many "life skills" programs are built on and that is the contribution of doing.  We give students "jobs" around the school or classroom so that they are contributing.  This is a tough one because this approach can be taken to the point where we are actually defining the social status of a student by the jobs that we assign them.  It also doesn't get to the heart of contribution as it is often action without the affective component that is so vital to contribution.

PLAN also talks about the contribution of being and defines it as
These are contributions made by a person’s presence. Many people with significant disabilities offer grace, caring, attentiveness, wonder, acceptance, silence, receptivity, compassion, inspiration, pleasure, gratitude, loyalty, and friendship. These gifts – often overlooked in our society – are critical to society’s well-being. In fact, they are a necessary antidote to ‘too much doing.’
So...  What if we authentically looked at community building instead of classroom management?  Would people then see the students that I serve as assets rather than liabilities in this kind of classroom?

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