Naming or creating a problem?

Graham, Linda J. & Macartney, Bernadette (2012) Naming or creating a problem? In Carrington, Suzanne B. & MacArthur, Jude (Eds.) Teaching in Inclusive School Communities. Wiley & Blackwell Publishing, Milton, QLD, pp. 189-208.


In this chapter, we are going to consider how language and practice interact in the process of supporting the learning of students with diverse abilities. You will learn that it is necessary for teachers to understand that while labels carry an administrative function in schools, when used carelessly they operate to stigmatise and exclude those whom we are working to include. This chapter will introduce the concept of equity and explain how the dilemma of difference emerges when we try to determine who should receive support and how. The chapter will also explain how an appreciation of language can help to inform and transform our pedagogy. An example of inclusion in action is provided to illustrate how inclusive language in practice can promote deep cultural changes that benefit both students and teachers.
The process of determining appropriate and effective education of students with additional support requirements is troubled by what some refer to as the ‘dilemma of difference’. This dilemma derives mainly from the nature of language and our need to use certain words, terms and categories in order to share common understandings. Without these, educators cannot hope to arrive on the same page, yet such words can take on a life of their own; influencing thoughts, perspectives and attitudes in ways that far outstrip original intentions. The drive for clarity, however, through definition and diagnostic classification can ultimately obscure because of the cultural meanings that become invested within these terms through their use over time and in different professional contexts. In effect, trying to define “difference” in order to provide the right support to particular students is a process that entrenches normative boundaries that in turn create, accentuate and stigmatise whatever we have decided constitutes difference. Language is thus a powerful and dangerous weapon but, like other weapons, language can both hurt and defend. Understanding the power of language enables educators to use it both wisely and safely to the maximum benefit of their students. This chapter will discuss how teachers can recognise and support their students in ways that avoid stigma and the closure of stereotyping.

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ID Code: 58764
Item Type: Book Chapter
Keywords: labelling, language, poststructural theory, inclusive education
ISBN: 9870730302179
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > SPECIALIST STUDIES IN EDUCATION (130300) > Special Education and Disability (130312)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Children & Youth Research Centre
Current > Schools > School of Cultural & Professional Learning
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 Please consult the author.
Deposited On: 27 Mar 2013 22:26
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2017 05:45

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