UDL vs Special Ed: Is inclusive education achievable?

A boy wearing a grey hoodie is wearing glasses and holding a pencil. He is sitting at his desk in the classroom. Other children are in the background.There are two points of view about universal design in learning (UDL). Some say it is the way to go, but others say it is not in the best interests of children. An article in the Irish Times presents both views. The National Council for Special Education supports the inclusive approach and cites the model developed in New Brunswick, Canada. Learning together helps create an inclusive society – it’s not just about education itself. Segregated children become segregated adults. 

The general secretary of a Catholic schools association makes the case against inclusion and maintaining segregated learning situations. He points to some of the issues not addressed by proponents of the New Brunswick model. These appear to be more on the basis of a philosophy not being a teaching method.

The National Council for Special Education is looking at the issues closely. In their Policy Advice on Special Schools and Classes, they explain the background work they have done on this topic in preparation for their report to the UN in 2020. This is a good reference document for anyone wanting to know more about the UDL approach to school learning.

Incidentally, UDL in higher education is taking off. To an outsider, it is not clear why schools are not following suit. Both institutions are obligated under the UN Convention to establish inclusive education. 

The Iris Times article is titled, Is Ireland at a Crossroads of Inclusive Education?  An article of the same name can be found on EBSCO Information Services by the Irish Association of Teachers in Special Education.

Not sure what UDL is about?  Have a look at CAST information – it is a leader in this field or go to their website for more. There are related posts on UDL in the UD for Learning section on the left hand menu of this site.


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