Week 4.1: The tension between theory and inclusivity

I have always been a fan of Bandura’s social learning theory – we model the behaviour and then we see that desired behaviour reciprocated.  I have always attempted the practice the socially reconstructive classroom that emphasises the power of stories, and recently I have moved toward an adoption of the ethical space of engagement that Willie Ermine discusses.  Sometimes I think it would be more valuable for my classroom to adopt the curricular approach of Maxine Greene and emphasize wide-awakeness/consciousness and making learners that are designing a world meant for Society 3.0.  Then I consider the work of Peter McLaren and the implementation of critical pedagogy to spark active globalized citizens who stand, who fight, and who teach the world around them to do the same. In reality, my classroom is at best a blend of all these things (at best).  I learn upon reflection, rewrite the script, sometimes throw out the script, and try the whole process again the next day.  

The apex of this struggle is trying to think of how to apply these theories to inclusivity because often it feels like I am just playing catch-up to try and get my students who require more intensive support included in what we are learning. 

I know the kind of teacher I want to be – the impassioned anti-oppressor, and I suppose that that is a good starting point.  From there I can say that I design my assistive tech around the student, the parents, and around the concept of partial participation – get the student to do as much independently as they possibly can.  

If you were to ask me what the purpose of assistive technology is in my classroom then I would say it is to provide learning opportunities for students who may not have access to those learning opportunities without it.  A disability or difference is not a prerequisite to requiring assistive technology – Google read and write can help more than one kind of student.  Similar to some of the other issues that we have discussed in this class, there are many options and the market is constantly updating and expanding – how can I be sure that I have supported my student with the best tech available? 

Eli Clare (2001) discusses in their article Stolen Bodies, Reclaimed Bodies the relationship between the inaccessibility of one’s body and the oppression that one feels outside of their body – specifically for individuals with disabilities. In the article, Clare poignantly writes: 

Irrevocable difference could be a cause for celebration, but in this world it isn’t. The price we pay for variation from the norm that’s defined and upheld by white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism is incredibly high. And in my life, that price has been body centered. I came to believe that my body was utterly wrong.

Eli Clare (p. 362)

In the years of my evolving inclusive practice, I have been considering the ways in which I promote difference as a cause for celebration – how have I contributed to supporting and creating an environment that celebrates the needs of the individual?  Have I supported the body of the individual and affirmed that through our constant shifting landscape of meaning making that the body of the this or that individual is never wrong, just different?

I hope so, but I don’t know if my intention has always been to support the difference or to try and conform the student in order to ease the learning process for everyone else and the instructional process for me. Making someone look like they are doing what everyone else is doing does not necessarily teach them anything.

Cranmer (2020) writes about the lack of research in inclusive ed-tech and about how we are missing out/failing to meet our inclusive goals because we simply do not know enough about the assistive tech possibilities.  I would argue that we do not know what we are actually trying to do. In my building, inclusivity means creating an opportunity for the student to work on content and engage in activities that are similar to what the rest of the class is doing.  There is no provincial or division mandate, there is only the assumption that we (teachers) have a functional definition of inclusivity and will implement it accordingly. How do we measure our program’s success? Where is the inclusivity rubric? You cannot really create quantitative data around the question of inclusivity because it is such an intrinsically emotional experience.

Schools need to improve technical provision and provide further opportunities for children to improve their skills. In the longer term, schools need to enable teachers to increase awareness, knowledge and skill to develop inclusive digital pedagogy

Cranmer (p. 327)

What we do know is that using assistive tech creates more opportunities for success.  That being said, Cramer highlights how there are frequent issues between teachers using the correct tech, the frustration involved with using the tech, and the prevalence of social stigmas associated with using assistive technology.  So perhaps a better way of phrasing it is that we know that using assistive tech in coherence and connection to the teaching philosophies and pedagogical beliefs of the impassioned educator will create more opportunities for success and learning. 


3 thoughts on “Week 4.1: The tension between theory and inclusivity

  1. Pingback: Assistive Technology – My Digital Learning Journey

  2. Daniel, when you said “I know the kind of teacher I want to be – the impassioned anti-oppressor” it really resonated with me because I too want to be that, and felt deeply connected to being that person in my first few years of teaching and tried to be that person day in and day out (think of the push-back that happened, as I am 100 years old and it was 2010). I too want to be that teacher, but as the years pass, I found myself being a teacher that created fewer waves because that’s what my administrator told me to do or to be. Looking back on that I wonder if he had my best interests at heart, or if it was a person who like things done a certain way, with no waves, no advancements, no changes. You’re also right though, with all of the stuff that gets put onto our plates and all of the different things that we are supposed to be doing and keeping up with, our goals for teaching often get put on the backburner. I hope you can find a way to be this teacher and to share this passion with your students. I too need to figure out how to be that person again. Thanks for your very reflective posts each week, and how inspiring, and thoughtful they are. Hopefully, our paths will cross again, as I think I could learn a lot from you! Happy summer!


  3. I agree with your post and Kelley’s comment – I, too, set out in education to be the impassioned anti-oppressor. Now, those aren’t the words I would have necessarily used at the time; I believe they encapture perfectly what my intent or hope was.
    I must say that I very much enjoyed reading your posts each week and found your insights to be profound, informative, and of great interest.


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