Paul W Bennett

Director, Schoolhouse Institute, and Adjunct Professor of Education, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, NS
Event

Heather Cumming

Teacher, Westmount Elementary School, Halifax Regional School Board, Halifax, NS

Session

Inclusion and Class Composition: Moving from Theory to Research-Based Policy and Practice

Striving for the “full inclusion” of all students in the regular classroom may be a worthy goal, but it makes teaching far more challenging and cannot satisfactorily meet the needs of all children. A few Canadian school systems, since the mid-1990s, have elevated “inclusive education” to an exalted status. Teacher surveys identify class management as a fundamental problem and “class composition” as the biggest obstacle to professional satisfaction. Our two presenters, a university research professor and a classroom teacher, will review the latest research, demonstrate how inclusion for everyone disadvantages those with the most complex needs. Drawing upon case studies in Nova Scotia and British Columbia, it’s clear that special needs policy, designed by theorists, is not working for too many teachers and needs rethinking to create a better, more productive class environment.

Bio

Paul W. Bennett is Founding Director of the Schoolhouse Institute and Adjunct Professor of Education at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, NS Canada. Over his wide-ranging career, Paul has taught high school history, completed an Ed.D. at OISE(Toronto), served as an elected public school trustee, headed two leading independent schools, written eight history books, and emerged, born-again, as a well-known Canadian education commentator. Since 2009, he has produced regular newspaper columns, churned out more than a dozen policy papers, and curated Educhatter, a lively blog on Canadian education. Follow him on Twitter @Educhatter.

Heather A. Cumming is an elementary Teacher in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She started her teaching career at the Boston Higashi School, a school helping children and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder to reach their full potential. Since returning to Canada, Heather has worked in the public school system in Halifax as a Learning Centre Teacher in various elementary schools. Currently, she is finishing her Doctorate of Education at the University of Glasgow. Her Dissertation explores Nova Scotian Classroom teachers’ perceptions of inclusive practices at the elementary level. She is also an active supporter of the Urban Farm Museum Society of Spryfield.