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In Twist, School Practices ‘Reverse Inclusion’

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A unique approach at one Ohio school has typically developing teens entering the world of special education for an eye-opening experience.

Through a semester-long elective at Kenston High School in Bainbridge, Ohio, high school juniors and seniors work side-by-side in a special education classroom with their peers who have special needs.

An outgrowth of a club, the course focuses on the history and experiences of individuals with disabilities. Typically developing students act as role models and are asked to do a series of creative, independent projects like organizing a dance or a talent show.

The benefits of the course are extending beyond the classroom, according to Amanda Englehart, a special education teacher who says she was inspired to develop the curriculum after seeing great students who simply didn’t know how to interact with students with disabilities.

“My kids aren’t sitting by themselves anymore during lunch, and they’re going over to each other’s houses on the weekend. It’s more than I ever thought it would be,” Englehart told the Sun News. To read more click here.

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Comments (10 Responses)

  1. Emilie says:

    I’m sorry but this is not inclusion, and if we understand what inclusion is, then why in the world would you want the reverse of it?

    “Reverse inclusion” is still a segregated classroom, albeit with some very kind and well-meaning students coming in to help out the disabled kids. I get that these are good kids, but being someone’s project is not being a fully welcomed and accepted member of the community.

  2. Thomas Neuville says:

    There is something laudable yet ever-not-quite about this curriculum. Imagine if we sent white kids to the segregated schools of the 60′s to be “known as positive-peer role models”. Although building familiarity and relationships there likely continues ones placement on the social hierarchy. How does the curriculum contribute to each student’s long-term need to accumulate positive social roles (see Maslow and others)?

  3. Dee Wheat says:

    OK….my freely given opinion, with the proviso that free advice is often worth exactly what it costs:

    It isn’t inclusion, but it may well, in the long run, be better. Perhaps not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday one of these students who electively place themselves in what is very likely to be perceived as the least pleasant environment in school will come away with the sure knowledge that the special needs kids are, first and foremost, just kids. Kids with the same dreams and aspirations, anxieties and angst as any other kid. They will in turn teach this to their families and friends, AND TO THEIR CHILDREN who in turn will follow suit and teach even more people the same lessons. On top of that, the most vulnerable kids with special needs will not only have mentors and role models, they will have friends for life, something few of us can say.

    Programs such as this may actually be our hope for the future.

  4. KA101 says:

    Yeah, there’s something to be said for voluntary interaction: people tend to perform better when they’re performing because they want to perform.

    Trouble is, settings such as this still start from the segregated default, and the regular-ed kids are getting credits for it. I’ve heard of this sort of thing as an extracurricular, which was questionable enough thanks to the specter of reg-ed kids engaging in inspiration-porny* sorts of interaction. Providing academic credit for the same thing worries me.

    *In case you’re not familiar with the term, this is when non-disabled people encounter a disabled person accomplishing something, Rather than accepting the accomplishment and moving on, they then proceed to publicize the accomplishment as “inspiring” and generally blow it out of proportion. Bonus if the achievement was somehow staged, such as the recent example of a developmentally-delayed team manager being put in to make a basket…with the full collusion of the opposing team. Gagh!

  5. Jakki says:

    LIke the idea but sometimes a “mandatory volunteer” position quickly fades once the “requirement” is met ALTHOUGH how I wish my daughter’s high school would have had something like this program in place. She is a social mis-fit @ 25 with few friends and most of those “friends” take advantage of her. :<(

  6. Phillip says:

    I practice reverse inclusion through recreational activities. I teach the individuals I work with to master the activity, such as geocaching, and then I invite their typical peers to participate. Social opportunities where typical peer encounters happen most often are within the school day or shortly their after. 90% of typical peer sets for students from their communities exist within these walls. Another great activity is team building games. I was taught at a very young age to look beyond the wheelchair and see the person. There is no reason that children on up to high school students should be able to do the same, in the right environment.

  7. Cari Watrous says:

    this isn’t inclusion – inclusion involves studentsw with disability is the classrooms of their peers without disabilities. nice heart warming story but not inclusion in anyway.

  8. Ann says:

    Ok, its not true inclusion but I’ve seen it work well. Some of the peer tutors are going on to become special ed. teachers and therapists. Also, the peer tutors treat the students with special needs as peers rather than “mothering” them which is what typically happens with inculsion.

  9. Phillip says:

    Nice post Ann, totally agree. I have seen it in my own work. When I was 15, I started working at a residential camp for kids with disabilities, and i never looked at them as “mothering” them, I looked at them as new friends.

  10. Lynne says:

    This idea is hardly new. It has been used to substitute for real inclusion in many places for many years. There is undoubtedly some value in creating links between students in segregated special education programs and general education programs — social ties do develop occasionally, general ed students may learn that the special education students are not so different and not scary, and so forth. BUT this is not inclusion. It still teaches all the students that segregation is okay, even justifiable and preferred. It puts the general education students in the superior role of teachers and mentors, not in a peer role as fellow students.

    Better than nothing, but not good.

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