“Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.” Mahatma Gandhi
Last night I was lamenting to a friend that I was tired. I’m most definitely an introvert and sometimes being “on” for an event and socializing are just really exhausting. I had to talk with other humans (who were perfectly lovely), but I’d really rather be at home with a book.
This particularly exhausting event was a party for one of Mia’s classmates. But this morning, I woke up and thought it was a little funny that I was complaining about having to talk to people. Because the reason I had to socialize with other adult humans is because my little girl was playing with her friends.
When we arrived, Mia ran off with the girls from her class, and I barely saw her the rest of the time we were there. So then I had to stress about talking to the other parents.
What I didn’t have to do was walk around facilitating her play with the other kids and try to “explain” Mia. All of these children understood Mia and already were her friends because…
What Mia’s school does really well is inclusion. Several times a year, I’ll hear on the news, through social media, or from politicians, that inclusion is not the way. Children like my daughter disrupt the class, causing other children to “stop learning.”
Let me address that. The reason that is happening in some schools is because inclusion is an investment. It takes time and money. And if you starve schools of resources, then inclusion becomes more difficult to do. Study after study proves that the best way to help all students is through inclusion. But inclusion is a commitment to outcomes. And it’s not free.
And if the answer to “disruption” is removing students from a class, making them the other, discriminating against them, and causing community tragedies, then I’m going to say that is definitely not the way.
I wish I could bring all the people who believe separation is best to that party yesterday – which happened to be for Mia’s friend with Down syndrome at Gigi’s Playhouse. Where Mia’s friend was celebrated by his typically developing friends, and Mia and her friend were a part of the group. Little kids didn’t ask questions like “What’s wrong with her.” They asked questions like, “Mia, do you want to play?”
When inclusion is done well, it builds a better community. And after what I saw at that party, we all want to be a part of that community.