Widening the Circle: The Power of Inclusive Classrooms

Mara Sapon-Shevin, Ed.D., Author . Beacon $14 (250p) ISBN 978-0-8070-3280-0

Designing inclusive education, Sapon-Shevin (Because We Can Change the World ) suggests, is like planning a dinner party for a varied group of friends—lactose-intolerant, Muslims, vegans, etc. We could serve our usual dishes and force our guests to pick around... or we could plan the menu beforehand so everyone's happy. Similarly, education must be designed, from the outset, for universal accessibility. Then, rather than try to ignore difference, she argues, teachers should embrace it so children realize we are all different in different ways. Whatever our particular issue—whether we have Down's syndrome or cerebral palsy or autism or gifted intelligences—if we work together in an inclusively designed classroom we learn from one another, which promotes respect among children and social justice in our nation. When the "gifted" and the "special ed" kids are teaching one another in the same inclusive classroom, not only may those labels disappear, not only may school performance rise overall, but teachers won't have to hear that plaintive cry from the special-ed kids, "Can I be in the play those kids are doing?" While Sapon-Shevin is earnest, her platform may seem delusional to a public school teacher with over 30 children in an overcrowded classroom. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 12/18/2006
Release date: 03/01/2007
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