Critical-collaborative research applied in an inclusive classroom
2.2 Identity and professional learning in new and diverse ecologies
Paper in a Symposium (Symp)
9:30 AM, Friday 1 Sep 2017 (27 minutes)
Convention Center - 205 A
Following international guidelines, public policies for inclusive education in Brazil indicate that schools should be prepared to enroll every student, which means providing for the inclusion of students with specific educational needs in regular classrooms, along with students perceived as non-disabled or with no specific need. From the data collected in the Primary Education Census in 2012, it could be observed that almost 76% of disabled students were attending regular schools. Thus, it was possible to realize that the inclusion process is increasingly becoming a reality in Brazil, and also that disabled students are leaving the few existing special schools and enrolling in regular schools. However, enrollment alone is not enough and the numbers do not show the difficulties that disabled students, teachers, families and the overall school staff have faced with the emergence of inclusive education. The paradigm of Inclusive Education has caused changes, deadlocks and doubts amongst all parties involved, due to the adjustments that have to be made to the educational practices so that the rights of each party are respected, understanding that the disability is just one more of the characteristics presented by the student, and the school as a whole must respect this difference and find an accessible way to convey (or collaboratively construct) knowledge. In this presentation, I intend to discuss the means and the extent by which the benefits of inclusive education to all students – mainly in Elementary School, which comprises students from 6 to 11 years of age – as mentioned in the UN Program on Disability, published in 1994, for non-disabled students - are available nowadays for groups attending public schools, after over 20 years of the release of the aforementioned document. It is worth recalling that these benefits include: a wider range of models for social roles; developing the understanding of their individual diversity, as well as the diversity of others; increasing responsibility and learning through teaching among the others; being better prepared to live in a diverse society in adulthood, among other benefits of studying in an inclusive classroom. This paper is an excerpt of my doctoral research, currently under development. It is being carried out in a Primary Education classroom, with 6 to 11 year-old students, in a public school in what is called Greater São Paulo (Brazil), i.e., a city in the outskirts of São Paulo, located 50km away from this state capital city. In the school where the investigation takes place, Preschool and Primary Education are taught. The school is located in a residential neighborhood, whose inhabitants are lower middle class, i.e., people of average purchasing power. There are 10 classrooms in the school and other facilities such as a reading room, a computer laboratory, indoor courts, among others, and a staff of 69 employees. The school has included disabled students for over 20 years and this investigation is carried out in a classroom where there is one disabled student. Firstly, I investigate how the relations between students and teachers are organized in this school – in this classroom setting – and what cognitive and emotional reactions working with a disabled student might cause in the other students, besides verifying how the classroom teacher leads this educational inclusion process, concerning values, morality and respect for differences, considering that “Identity and difference are cultural and social creations” (Silva, 2000). Then, considering that the chosen methodology is the Critical Research of Collaboration (Magalhães, 2010), I aim to intervene in this social environment with a view to provide a means for students and teacher to discuss their knowledge construction and the language which is employed by them in their everyday teaching-learning activity. Critical Research of Collaboration (PCCol) aims at “organizing investigations based on a critical praxis as a transforming and creative activity, in which the relations between theory and practice are dialectally understood, in their mutual autonomy and dependence, in other words, as praxis. (Magalhães, 2010)”, and states that the researcher must be an active part in the researching process. PCCol aims at fostering a culture of analysis and reflection upon the practices, as a means to enable the explanation of the changes that take place in this environment, by questioning and reflecting upon the school context. (PIMENTA, GARRIDO E MOURA, 2000). The authors also quote that teachers involved in collaborative thinking tend “to be able to question, analyze and understand their own practices, as well as to produce meaning and knowledge that enabled them to lead the transformation process of school practices, resulting in changes in the school culture (…)”. This is possible because one of the theories underlying the PCCol is the Critical Reflective framework, and one of the methods of intervention is the Reflective Session (Magalhães, 2006). The premise of PCCol, according to Magalhães (2007), indicates that the relations among participants are recognized as collaborative relations, which enables them to share new meanings and produce new ways to be and act in the world. The theoretical basis that guides me through this path is the sociohistorical-cultural theory (Vygotsky, 1924-1934). This author understands that social-historical evolution and the students’ personal and cultural experiences must be considered during the education process. He also states that a child internalizes the cultural tools by using language. The means by which children in an inclusive classroom internalize cultural tools and how they demonstrate affection in this space are the object of the investigation carried out in this study. According to Magalhães (2009), the changes that take place in a certain context are marked by a collective activity (organized by all parties involved) and have a particular intention, that use the establishment of rules and the division of labor to construct the Zone of Proximal Development, that is mediated by language, enhancing changes in totalities. In this perspective, I am carrying out this study that, as aforementioned, is my doctoral research project in the Post-Graduation Program on Education and Health in Infancy and Adolescence of the São Paulo Federal University (UNIFESP). The research line of this program investigates the relations that become chronic problems, especially concerning their educational experiences. Particularly in my research, this is shown by the analysis of the inclusion of disabled students in regular schooling and the moral and ethical consequences to the parties involved in this process.