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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rules For Radicals

Rules For Radicals: Waging Peace For Full Inclusion.

We live in times that call for change and improvement. Much like the 1960’s and the 1920’s before that, but in our times, the specific changes called for are unclear. The move towards inclusion and peace is blocked by vision that is not so muddied as it is false in its clarity. My colleague David Schwartz says that we live in a world that is consistently projecting clear messages aimed at creating a loss of vision to human realities, while, at the same time convincing the viewer they can see clearly. Will Rogers said; “It’s not what people know that scares me, it’s what they know that just ain’t so” (http://www.willrogers.org/). I am sure that this is quite relevant today and that David Schwartz hit it right on the head when he says that we are visionless but are certain that we can see. By creating space for citizens to gather together and incorporate the steps for inclusion, the Ingredients of Peace and Saul Alinsky’s Tactics, our collective vision will return and result in reformation, and perhaps revolution.

The dominant ideological strategy employed today for students at risk of exclusion is a higher order, more complex system of exclusion. Full inclusion is not getting more likely; we just talk as if it is. Students with disabilities are not getting better equipped for life; it just looks as though they are. Schools and teachers are not improving processes and strategies; they just believe they are. In the virtual world of, “things are not as they seem”, the time is ripe for a blast of peaceful tactics. The time is now to do what we can, with what we have for the realization of full inclusion.

Steps Toward Inclusion

Perhaps the steps toward inclusion are straightforward and obvious: Simply stop excluding people in the first place. However, exclusion as an idea has had the opportunity to institutionalize itself in the hearts, minds and hands of professionals, parents and even the students. Exclusion has won by convincing us it does not exist. Few would agree that certain students have been shut out and kept out from consideration and privilege. The lack of exclusionary vision calls for the following ten steps to be overtly institutionalized. These steps have been created through conversation with friends like Bill Henderson (2005) in Boston and writings from colleagues at the Whole School Consortium such as Michael Peterson (2003). The steps are not meant to be all-encompassing or immediately understood. Individuals and groups must work together in order to generate new steps and cause sufficient insight to take actions that are relevant to them.

10 Essential Elements of Mindful Inclusion

1) Seek first to understand, then to be understood (Covey).

We have such a propensity to sprint in, to fix things up with first-class counsel. But time and again, fail to take time to analyze, and to truly and deeply recognize the person and circumstances first.

a. Understand Authentically.

If you wish for effective relations and influential communication, you first must understand. It is not merely method. Method alone will generate a sense of betrayal, manipulation, and veiled motives. Create an atmosphere of well-being to encourage people to reveal themselves and thus be understood, and to encourage both seeing and being seen.

b. Empathetic Listening

You have to construct the competencies of empathic listening on a foundation of disposition that inspires openness and trust. The emotional bank accounts that create commerce between the hearts must be built.

2) Create Collaborative classrooms (Attachment A) and Democratic Processes (Attachment B).

a. Authentic genuine learning communities.

b. Age appropriate Popular Education.

3) Schools should not be a factory for the factory.

a. Compliance and conformity should not be the primary objective.

b. Use resources and professionals that understand the intent of standards and standardization and center methods on unique people, places and cultures (a capacity building ecology).

c. Educational purpose should be built on nurturing healthy people, not willing workers (i.e. “They must be prepared for the real world”).

4) Remember that robustness abounds. (Attachment C)

a. Robustness as the most common variable toward a contributing person.

b. Extreme measures are required to overcome the institutionalized personal impact of exclusion.

5) If you live there, you learn there.

a. Create responsible districts and open schools.

b. There should be no third party sub-contracted responsibility.

6) Be a “committed inclusionist” (Samuel, Bill 2005).

a. It will take great fervor and clarity to overcome the forces of segregation and separation.

b. Hatred is an unconscious driving force behind segregation and congregation.

7) There must be teachers who work from their head, heart and hands.

a. Feel it: working from foundations of meaning and from their hearts.

b. Know it; knowing the right tool for the right job, which is used in the extraordinarily right way (e.g. Differentiated Instruction). Head.

c. Do it: Seeking evidence of becoming, belonging and learning. The former maybe exemplified by a new phrase, “Those who can do, really teach well”.

8) Work to create a culture and then enhance it and renew it by building capacity.

a. Institutional, student and professional learning and growth are symbiotic (Attachment D).

9) Work to immerse in and emerge with the deepest gift and contribution that each person has to offer (theory of Supreme Excellence Attachment E).

a. Discover with passion.

b. Discover with commitment.

c. Discover with creativity.

10) Engender a comprehensive all-embracing disposition that provokes;

a. Hard work.

b. Flexibility.

c. Trying ideas that are consistent with positive means and meaningful ends.

©Neuville 2005

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