When we (those who can do school well) negatively label our students (to ‘their’ benefit for special services, we say), they become that label and often cannot shake it from their own consciousness or from the eyes of society for the rest of their lives.
Can we possibly find a better way to serve our students through practices of positive acknowledgment, respect and inclusion?
In E.L. Brown & P. Gibbons (eds.) International Advances in Education: Global Initiatives for Equity and Social Justice, Vol. 2: Ethnicity and Race, pg 285-308. Information Age Publishing, 2011.
Under the prevailing deficit approach, students who are different from mainstream in terms of race, ethnicity, language, appearance, sexual orientation, children who come from low income families, from the wrong side of the tracks, or those labeled with any kind of ‘dis’ability, are considered less able to succeed in school. But the diversity of students can be used to enhance teaching and learning if we allow voices, experiences, lives, interests and strengths from outside of school to be brought into the school discourse. A pedagogy of abilities acknowledges and makes use of the myriad colors in every classroom to paint possibilities of meaningful education for all students.
It sounded too good to be true when I first heard about the Tel-Aviv School in a short televised report: inner-city children from all over the world are thriving within an inclusive, accepting pedagogy, respectful to all and lead by empowered teachers? Long term research documented the processes and products of the school and the children and proved that by rethinking schooling and its traditional mechanisms, we can find a better way to reach and teach all students. No excuses.
Possibilities inherent in a learning-centered pedagogy: Accessing and leveraging the richness of human capacity.
With Limor Pinhasi-Vittorio Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice, Vol. 25(4), Winter 2012, pp. 1-19.
Learning is optimized in a physically, emotionally and mentally safe space where everyone belongs and every voice counts. Changing our practice from a focus on teaching and curriculums to a focus on learners and learning allows us to envision classrooms where experience, discovery and learning are accessible to all students. Incorporating knowledge about how the human brain functions, we are proposing an ability approach to education where all abilities and strengths are accepted and respected as important componebts of the social fabric.