Earlier I had an idea for a piece of writing which I think I need to leave to brew a bit, but which I think it’s worth jotting down here. I grew up in a special school. Of course, a lot has been said for the case for inclusion: educating all children together, regardless of ability, has massive social and educational benefits. I’m not questioning that; yet it occurs to me that, had I not gone to the school I did, had I not been educated alongside my disabled classmates, would I be the person I am today? To put that another way, if I had been mainstreamed and kept separate from other disabled children, would I be as open to other people with disabilities as I am now? Would I still have had so many disabled friends, or would I have tended to shun other disabled people? Indeed, would I ever have gone out with Lyn, had I not had the experiences I acquired through school? I’m not sure I would have, so perhaps the case could be made that special school, academically flawed though it may have been, made me who I am. I cherish my friendships with my school mates, and especially with Lyn; I feel extremely fortunate to have known them all. In a way you could say that going to a special school forged my identity, my worldview, as a disabled man. Where, however, does that put the case for inclusion?
I think these questions are worth exploring at some length.