When Students Challenge Inclusive Education: A Case Study

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Inclusive education is a main topic in policy documents. But it is not always implemented in daily school practices. The principles of inclusive education are in Salamanca Statement (UNESCO; 1994). They underline that all children must have access to a quality education and to equity in their educational opportunities. These ideals are particularly important for deaf students. Belonging to a minority culture and speaking a minority language (Portuguese Sign Language), they face cultural and language barriers, because they are taught in a second language. Those barriers do not encourage their academic learning and their inclusion in the society, as most members are listeners and use an oral language they do not master.
Assuming an interpretative approach, we developed a case study designed to know the social representations and feelings of all deaf adult students (n=9) from a school in Lisbon. This study aims at knowing how deaf students experience their inclusion process and if inclusive education is close or far away from its ideals. The participants were these deaf students, their teachers, the researcher and other significant educational agents. Data collecting instruments included interviews (audio or video taped, according to the language used), observation, documents, questionnaires and tasks inspired in projective techniques. An in-depth content analysis was carried out in order to define inductive categories.
We discuss two examples based in students’ accounts. They allow us understanding how the mediation of an oral language and of this school’s culture is distressing for students’ acting and feelings, because it is in a language other than their own. Instead of highlighting the richness of diversity, many of this school practices try to promote homogeneity, adopting a cultural model as unique and forgetting curricular flexibility. Thus, these students still experience different forms of exclusion in a system that was supposed to include them.


Keywords: Inclusive Education, Special Needs, Cultural and Linguistic Diversity, Deaf Education, Language and Mediation
Stream: Special Education, Learning Difficulties, Disability
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Joaquim Melro

Teacher, Social and Human Sciences Department, Escola Secundária Artística António Arroio
Lisboa, Portugal

Joaquim Melro is a teacher of Philosophy in Lisbon and a educational researcher.
He has a Degree in Philosophy. He was early interested in research in education, having attended the Specialization Course in Education in the area of specialization in Administration School (in 1999). Included in this course he developed an exploratory study on inclusive education, particularly for students on condition of SEN (Deaf). Since then, H's not dropped this area of research. In 2003 he got my master's degree in Science Education, in the area of expertise for Supervision and Tutoring. He developed a research on the inclusion of Deaf students into mainstream education at a secondary school in Lisbon. In fact inclusive education has been for him, in recent years, an object and purpose of research. Thus, he’s preparing his Ph.D. in Inclusive Education, particularly, for students on condition of SEN (Deaf) in the mainstream education. He published several book chapters and papers in these domains

Prof. Margarida César

Professora Auxiliar com Agregação, Departamento de Educação da Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa
Lisboa, Portugal

Margarida César is a professor at the Department of Education, Faculty of Science, University of Lisbon, Portugal, a member of the Research Centre in Education (CIEFCUL) and its vice-coordinator (1996 – 2000). She was an invited professor at University of Paris VIII, She has a graduation in Psychology (1981), a PhD in Education/Psychology of Education (1995), and an Aggregation in Education (2004). Her research domains are: social interactions, including peer interactions and collaborative work; intercultural education; inclusive education; dialogical self; and social representations. She published several book chapters and papers in these domains. She was a supervisor of CID group (Children, Elderly and Handicapped people; Citizenship, Institutions and Rights, from the Portuguese Ministry of Solidarity and Social Security.

Ref: L09P0643