social red shift

My parents bedroom is next to mine. In the mornings, I can hear their radio. This is good because I can listen to the today program as I dress. They also have it on in the kitchen, while we eat breakfast. This morning I caught the end of the 7am bulletin – it did not start my day well.

The Tories have launched their education policy. They describe inclusion as disastrous. This, needless to say, made me swear out loud. Those bunch of morons do not realise the damage special schools do. they would rather disabled kids be taught in special schools, but do not realise the damage such schools do. I find their approach to the whole subject condescending and patronising, for they would rather listen to a few idiotic parents wanting to protect their little diddums rather than the survivors of such schools. I whish I could show them what happens at such schools. I want to show them all of it. Some liken it to torture.

Despite many years at Hebden, I, in part at least, see myself as a product of inclusion. My best achievements were those that Hebden had very little hand in – GCSE English at Woodford lodge, A-levels at maccc and south Cheshire college, and my crowning achievement – my first class degree. These were all situations where I was included, especially at university where it’s hard to see how I could have been included more. I was speaking to the brother of an old school friend of mine, about to start his degree. He was saying about how his little bro was concerned he was going to be bullied or ostracised at uni. I too once had such fears; I told him how I cried my eyes out the first night at university, but on the second night found brandies and never felt homesick again. I was never once bullied, simply accepted for who I was (leotards, dresses, lightwriters and all). I have written here before about how, at university, I have met friends I never want to lose contact with, and made memories I never want to forget. I told him about the good times – about Newquay, and brandies discos. Its funny how wrong I was once about being accepted. The advantages of getting past such an assumption are huge, for I now feel more confident than ever: weekends away are nothing, nights out rule! What once seemed huge hurdles are now nothing – all I need, more often than not is a p.a (and/or a few good friends*), my lightwriter, cash for beer, and my toothbrush. The sky is the limit.

All this stems from inclusion. The psychological effects of being included allow one to see that one is, in effect, no different to anyone else. On the other hand, being segregated reinforces the idea that one is different. One thus thinks one is limited. Often, kids are told that they won’t be able to do gcses etc, and hence are taught to accept a place in life ultimately below their potential, and ultimately not as happy a one as it may have been. Looking back over the last three years, and reflecting that some kids may be being denied such experiences because of the misconceptions and biases of the powers that be – often parents and special school teachers – ii feel my blood boil. Inclusion must proceed.

Inclusion, mind, not integration. There is a difference, and an important one, as it is the stumbling block for many people. it can be explained thus: imagine a circle on

a piece of paper. There’s a dot just outside the circle. Integration means moving the dot to inside the circle, whereas inclusion means expanding the circle to accommodate the dot. What people object to is integration: just to dump the dot inside the circle is wrong. Just to dump a kid with SEN inside a mainstream school without any support is wrong. If that had happened to me, I strongly suspect things would have been very different. However, if we expand the circle so the education system can accommodate the needs of all kids, everybody will benefit. I believe this is what happened to me, especially at university: with every adaptation, every electric key fob, expanded keyboard and box of straws behind the bar in brandies, the radius was enlarged. Mind you, I think when it comes to people this circle expanded naturally. People, especially students, are very accepting: not once did I feel fundamentally different. If this red shift occurred at university, it can sure as hell happen in schools.

The Tories are therefore grossly misguided, and must be stopped. It is segregation, not inclusion, which is the disaster. I saw it’s effects first hand, and have felt them. I once felt different and alien; I once pitied myself. I will not allow the Tories to return us to the dark days of segregation, with kids being given a second rate, half assed education; with kids being stood for so long that they fainted; with classmates being illiterate age 16; with having to watch half your classmates wilt and fail. I will not allow the return of such things to appease a few overprotective parents. Inclusion must proceed.

*this reminds me, need to sort out getting my crippled butt to Portsmouth for john’s party. Need to go to see Kate too

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