History

 

 

Emeritus Professor Ingemar Emanuelson began his teaching career in the 1950s at a period when politicians in Sweden decided to create schools for pupils from age 6 to 16 years. Their intention was to establish more community-based schools, accommodating students from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., where education was provided from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The guiding principle was that teachers, staff of pre- and after-school care and all supporting staff who were employed by the municipality, would together take responsibility for a cluster of students. A cluster consisted of several year groups. Throughout the day a constant number of staff was present to work with the whole group or parts of it; several rooms were available for them. Education was more development - than program- oriented and was tailored to the individual needs of the student.

Prior to this, special education in Sweden was similar to special education in the Netherlands in the 90s. There were children in special schools ; there was no question of inclusion, but rather of exclusion. The advent of extended, community-based schools created opportunities to differentiate the needs of children who previously received special education so that they could remain within the regular school framework. In the regular schools, a different grouping system emerged which included special classes (auxiliary or help classes). This meant that the exclusive system was maintained in an education system that was meant to be inclusive.

At the end of the 60s, Ingemar Emanuelson had a conversation with one of the students from his help class, which made him ponder. The student questioned the "help" that the help class offered him, because it stigmatized him as a special student and thus odd or different from "normal" students. His argument was that he would carry this label with him for life and that this would adversely affect his chances in society. In Ingemar Emanuelson's mind, this raised questions of which were the best organizations and what the best ways for giving so called special students help and support according to their needs.

There was at that time a general tendency for pupils with special needs to be included not only in help classes but also in the regular school groups and. Integration became a guiding factor for education: "you may be different, but you too belong". During this process the trend then became inclusive: all students are different, everybody is part of the total. The basic principle was not to exclude anyone:

One school for all.

Ingemar Emanuelson has devoted his professional life to 'inclusion'. He has done a lot of research in this subject , thus making a valuable contribution to the development of inclusive education, especially in Sweden, but also internationally.
In the 70s, the government imposed a change in the curriculum for education. The new curriculum was based on the principle of inclusion. As is usual with any process of change, not every school could develop as fast or in the same way as the others. Students were still placed for shorter or longer periods in special education, but there was a clear change in the way of thinking. The concept of inclusive education was widely discussed : it developed roots and became an obvious natural choice. This way of thinking fitted in with the widespread ideas regarding social welfare.

Interview

Ingemar Emanuelsson 

 

History of inclusion

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