Position Paper on Inclusion
The Association for the Gifted (TAG), as part of the Council for Exceptional Children, is committed to providing educational opportunities which foster excellence and equity in a democratic pluralistic society. Achieving these goals requires that schools develop programs which honor diversity. Because children are capable of developing beyond where we are able to predict, schools must sustain educational programs which promote development and magnify differences among persons.
“Inclusion” is a philosophical position which acknowledges these goals and champions programs which reform the “general” educational program to be more responsive to diversity. TAG embraces that philosophy and those policies which abandon a one-program-fits-all approach to education. Among school-aged children, TAG is especially concerned with those who exhibit three educationally relevant characteristics, i.e. rapid rate of learning and development in some domain, advanced knowledge in areas related to that domain and a seriousness about learning. Programs which call themselves – inclusion programs – and address these characteristics in a practical and meaningful way are appropriately named and are to be commended.
All children deserve varying experiences because they have different needs. Believing that all children are capable learners does not mean that all learn in the same way, at the same rate and can achieve the same outcomes in the same time frame. Placing children in situations where they face persistent failure is as inappropriate as placing them in situations where they face chronic lack of challenge. Learning to work together and helping others are worthwhile objectives that become unseemly when children are rarely challenged academically and intellectually. More, not less, attention to individual differences in learning and development is needed in order to have excellent and equitable schools.