Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Desegregation of Education

Well, since I've found the blog, rearranged the furniture and repaired the electrics, I guess I may as well use it.

This article was posted on a friend's wall, with much ensuing discussion.
Been musing on it for a while.
I disagree that changing the language is going to help much, because the problem is a segregation mindset, and a system that is based entirely on segregation. I think that mindset is more tenacious than a change of language can fix (although I fully recognise the power of language).
We have a schooling model that separates out different kinds of kids according to arbitrary parameters - medical diagnosis, performance on a test, ability in some specific area at age 12, parents' income. We then train teachers to deal with only subsets of these groups. There is a total focus on categorisation, usually done pretty poorly anyway.
The problem is, attempts to move more kids into the mainstream in the past have largely been based on grand gestures, without any changes to the way schools work, the mindset of segregation, or making sure that the right resources are available for all kids. So people have become wary of "mainstreaming", but it doesn't have to be this way.
We need to change the way we view education. There needs to be more teachers in classrooms - like at least 2 in every full class of 30. Classes need to be made up based on the way the kids work together, not ability levels or random draws. And all teachers need to frame their approach to students as finding the kid where they are, and showing them how to get to where they need to be next. Sometimes that may indeed require another teacher with skills specific to this child. Sometimes it may require another teacher who isn't triggered by this particular kid's behaviour. That's why teaching needs to be collaborative, not just in the staffroom but in the classroom.
Further on down the line then, segregation falls apart too. If kids sit in classrooms with kids of all types, then they get to appreciate that everyone brings their own strengths and weaknesses. When they are considering employing someone, they will consider the whole range of folks, instead of only those who they found themselves categorised with. Changing schools may not be enough in and of itself to break down segregation, but it's always a bloody good start.

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