I am working on a new book with my daughter, Gianna, and her fiance, Marc Lewis. This book is an “on the ground” look at educational inclusion and the critical variable of social capital. Both Gianna and Marc are teachers, deeply embedded in the educational inclusion agenda, and passionate about social connections for their students.
Our overall thesis is that to really achieve a greater sense of inclusion, for all children in educational venues, is directly linked to social connections, or social capital. In fact, life success for anyone, is deeply tied to social capital and community connections. We are postulating that if children with and without disabilities build social relationships in school, everyone will do better. As simple as this sounds, however, it is incredibly challenging to realize.
In our book we are looking at this and offering some solid insights, but for relationships to truly form, there must be a “spirit of inclusion” present in the school. What we mean by this is simple - if the school, and its leadership, are not committed to finding ways and means to meaningful social capital for their students, then all the creative ideas and strategies on this topic won’t be worth a hill of beans.
And this “spirit of inclusion” is really not about education, or found in an educational strategy. Rather, it must be embraced as a human rights and social justice issue. That is, it should be seen as a right, not a privileged, to have the opportunity to building relationships, and public systems, like schools, have an obligation to facilitate these opportunities. This social connection agenda should be as important as any academic format or curriculum.
We are doing some solid national and international research for this book, and think this work will add to the resource pool on inclusion. Still we know, that the “spirit of inclusion” is at the core of real social change and invite you to think more about this in your own work