Appreciation from a Chinese Visitor

By: Xu Su Qiong, Ph.D.  

I would like to express my deep appreciation to my MCIE colleagues. Thanks to them, I had an opportunity to learn inclusive education practices and approaches of how they, as professional teams, promote inclusion in school system of Maryland. I have enjoyed their enthusiasm and expertise for facilitating the enterprise of embracing and catering individual differences. During my visit in MCIE, I not only participated in several school district meetings, but also attended classroom teaching and grade-level discussions for catering for individual difference. These experiences will be to my lifelong benefit.

I have to say that my visit in MCIE has changed my personal belief from moderate stance to progressive stance of inclusive education. The progressive stance not only radically criticizes segregated special schools but also strongly denies the idea of labeling. I tended to object to the progressive inclusionist or the universalist, and maintain that some students cannot be effectively educated in mainstream settings, due to the type and severity of their disability, it is, thus, necessary to retain special education provision for them. Moreover, simply denying difference does not protect people from humiliation but, instead, promotes another kind of suffering. I used to believe that it is problematic to stressing the place where it should take place for children with SEN. The reason for me to hold a moderate stance of inclusive education is that in current system of China, there is a need for special education. The development of special education is a critical step forward for students with disabilities, because it guaranteed them an education that they were once shut out of completely. Moreover, many parents tend to believe that special education schools are better choice for their children with disability, rather than general education schools. It is thus necessary to make special education schools available for parents’ freedom of choice. Furthermore, identifying and labeling a child as having a disability and/or special education needs (SEN) usually means proper resources. Without labeling, how the extra resources could be allocated? 

     However, when I participated into MCIE’s meetings with local school districts and schools, I began to believe that full inclusion is possible. The special education should not mean segregated organizations. It should be a kind of professional service that could be provided in general classrooms or schools where all students learn together. Most importantly, separate is seldom equal, and the idea of separating students with disabilities from their typical peers imply that the “disability” resides in those individuals, not in the curriculum or organization itself. Inclusive education is measurable and can be achieved through the development of teachers’ skills and adjustments in school organization within the context of broader multi-disciplinary initiatives that are devoted to this end. Especially, as general education becomes more flexible through Universal Design for Learning, it should be able to serve the needs and interests of all learners.

    Another important concept that I definitely would like to emphasize is ‘support’. The category of disabilities or SEN could be replaced by levels of support from teaching perspective. Whether or not a child experiencing difficulties in learning should be identified as intensity of different levels of support as the result of approving identification can bring with it proper resources. By doing so, it potentially results in eliminating devaluation, stigma, and other possible negative outcomes such as low self-esteem and underachievement in this child, which is ultimate goal of inclusion.

    My personal believe in inclusive education have changed as I witnessed MCIE’s efforts, which is the most important gain during my one month’s visit in MCIE. This change would definitely have great impact on my future research and practice. I would also like to promote cooperation between MCIE and my university in future, which I am trying to do.


About the Blog Author

Xu Su Qiong is a lecturer at Chonqqing Normal University in Guangyuan, in the Sichuan Province in China.