Inclusive Teaching as a Critical Skill for Educators in the 21st Century

Inclusive Teaching as a Critical Skill for Educators in the 21st Century

Reginald Botshabeng Monyai (University of South Africa, South Africa), Selina Ramapela (Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa) and Jeanette Ramollo (Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 29
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5727-2.ch009

Abstract

The chapter recognizes that the need for accommodating all the learners in a teaching and learning situation is better accompanied by an inclusive teaching attitude and, therefore, practice. An extensive desktop literature review is used to explain the idea of inclusive teaching as a critical skill for educators in the 21st century. The chapter gives an overview of the conceptualization and contextualization of inclusive education, followed by the theoretical underpinnings of inclusive pedagogy. Most importantly, for the 21st century setup, the chapter advances thoughts of employing technology to promote inclusive pedagogy.
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Introduction

After more than two decades of legislative and administrative efforts to define the role of an educator, recent literature substantiates that inclusive education and the use of technology has still not become common practice in various classrooms. Instead, it is often made out as if inclusion practices are applied, hence the dire need for the removal of obstacles that deform the original idea, leading to more classroom simulation (López, Julio, Morales, Rojas, & Pérez, 2014).

Inclusive education has become a philosophy for both national and international communities. Inclusive education promotes equity, justice, and quality education for all children, especially those traditionally excluded from mainstream education for reasons such as disability, ethnicity, gender, or other characteristics (Kaushik, 2016). Though inclusive education and teaching have been implemented successfully in various countries, other nations are still struggling to integrate this approach in the classroom. It is therefore prudent that additional efforts be continued to support teachers through capacity development programs for them to cope with the demands of creating a more inclusive educational environment.

In recent history, research around education and pedagogy support the adoption of inclusive education models in both school structures and service delivery for greater inclusion of learners with special education needs (LSEN) into general education classrooms (Parekh, 2013), which then places considerable pressure on educators to make breakthroughs in this regard.

The inclusive classroom has been assessed to be beneficial for both the teacher and learner (Paul, 2016). It is generally accepted that a fully inclusive educational setting requires planning, trained teachers, and other supporting staff. Paul is of the view that such inclusive classrooms are challenging but have the potential of being effective. The social and emotional inclusion of learners is key to the inclusive teacher as academic inclusion.

The inclusive teacher is therefore expected to advocate a vision for each child by continuously modifying the curriculum to suit every learner. Paul also asserts that to be a successful teacher in inclusive classrooms is not an easy task, as the educator is dealing with different abilities of learners.

An inclusion educator is described as a special education teacher who teaches inclusion learners to function in the general education classroom (Paul, 2016). This role of the educator evolved due to the demands for inclusive education, which have increased and fostered major changes to schooling and education. For the educator to execute these special tasks, adequate training and support are required.

Starcic (2010) emphasizes that the educational curriculum course should aim at preparing future teachers to recognize information and communication technologies (ICTs) as enablers of their own professional learning and development, and as one of the main drivers for a change of pedagogical practice for student-centered teaching in inclusive classrooms. The inclusion and integration of other opportunities for learning is an important part of equal opportunity in education.

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Background

Literature suggests that inclusive education and teaching has been implemented successfully in various countries, and that teachers are viewed as an essential component thereof. In their article: “Educator rights and duties in special education – a comparative study between the United States and South Africa,” Smit, Russo and Engelbrecht (2010) propose that specific legislation dealing with special education in South Africa should be drafted in order to address the needs of learners and educators adequately. This is in support of the spirit of White Paper 6, which is that all children and youth have the potential to learn and require support. The White Paper also advocates for providing enabling education structures, systems, and learning methodologies to meet the needs of all learners (Department of Basic Education, 2001). The Guidelines for Full-service/ Inclusive Schools (Government Gazette, 1994) emphasize the need to transform the entire education system in order to tackle barriers to learning and development in the teaching and learning setup of inclusive education.

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