ERIC Number: EJ857199
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Aug
Teaching Children to Live with Diversity: A Response to "Tocqueville on Democracy and Inclusive Education--A More Ardent and Enduring Love of Equality than of Liberty"
European Journal of Special Needs Education, v24 n3 p245-247 Aug 2009
This article presents the author's response to "Tocqueville on Democracy and Inclusive Education: A More Ardent and Enduring Love of Equality than of Liberty" written by Steven Connolley and Rune Sarromaa Hausstatter. The author agrees with Connolley and Hausstatter that people need to stop and question the assumptions and values associated with the inclusive education imperative. However, she does not share their view that schools should eschew the pursuit of democracy through inclusive education and concern themselves exclusively with intellectual achievement and personal development. The author argues instead that offering children opportunities to engage with, and critically evaluate, diversity and inclusion can enhance their understanding of others--and of themselves. She raises three questions: (1) Where is the evidence to suggest that young people will react to the exposure of democratic ideas with the "intellectual torpor" that is so feared?; (2) If schools are not the place where children are taught to engage with, and respond to, a diversity of people and opinions, then where--and when--will this happen?; and (3) If people wait until children are intellectually ready for democracy, might they remain waiting indefinitely? Schools, the author argues, can be ideal places to introduce children to ideas of diversity and inclusion. This, however, would need very different approaches from those which Connolley and Hausstatter rightly criticise. Diversity would need to be taught as something interesting in itself, with space for children to explore it, and their relationship to others who are different, without teachers concerned with political correctness policing children's encounters or seeking to promote tolerance. "Enlightened self-love", in the Toquevillian sense, would thus come, not from individual achievement, but from understanding one's own self in relation to others. Inclusion would need to move away from an emphasis on the majority, consensus and "all in" and encourage instead the articulation of the tensions and oppositions among people. Far from detracting from intellectual independence, such activities could strengthen it.
Descriptors: Inclusive Schools, Democracy, Disabilities, Mainstreaming, Cultural Pluralism, Civil Rights, Social Values, Democratic Values, Role of Education, Intellectual Development
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A