Ethics, epistemologies and inclusive education

Sheehy, Kieron (2017). Ethics, epistemologies and inclusive education. In: Gajewski, Agnes ed. Ethics, Equity, and Inclusive Education. International Perspectives on Inclusive Education (9). Bingley: Emerald Publishers, pp. 59–78.



The origin of this chapter lies in a presentation by a colleague whose work I admire. Drawing on their extensive experience, they have developed guidance for schools to support children with special educational needs. Their conclusion was that teachers could adopt an eclectic approach, utilizing and combining different interventions as appropriate. The notion of utilizing different teaching approaches to facilitate inclusive education seemed accepted as unproblematic. However, I began to wonder about what happens when teaching approaches are based on conflicting views about the nature of how children learn. This led me to consider a more fundamental question. Do teachers’ own beliefs about how knowledge is created and how children develop (their personal epistemological beliefs) have an impact on their practice and children’s experiences in inclusive classrooms? Answering this question leads to the ethical issue of whether all ways of thinking about how children learn are compatible with teaching in inclusive schools, and the consequences that arise from seeking an answer.

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