Community Schooling

Region: 

As I read through the contributions from members there is definitely an underlying trend in regards to education.  In its current form the education system is not or cannot provide the required service to children and their families with disabilities.  As an educator this makes me extremely distressed.  I am not Autistic and I do not have an Autistic child but I feel very passionate about advocating for families and children with disabilities and also teachers in the classroom.  I work with a number of teachers and schools who are working very hard to do an almost impossible job with the resources that are currently provided in the classroom.  The ability of a teacher to provide individual programs for 30 students in their classrooms is extremely difficult. 

This is in no way an attempt to trivialize the stress and pressures on parents when navigating through an education system that is based on performance outcomes and sometimes unrealistic expectations.  Parents may be bombarded by the inadequate service they experience when it comes to the education of their child.  The government does not seem to realize that with the implementation of inclusive practices comes increased responsibility for providing the appropriate services to children with disabilities.  The decrease in funding and resources over the past years directly affects the outcomes and services schools and specifically teachers can provide for children with disabilities.  Inclusion has a strong foundation but unless there are sufficient resources the whole community suffers. 

Education and educators cannot remain as an isolated institution, hiding behind the idea that "everything is just fine, no problems here."  The transparency of the difficulties faced not only by parents and families but educators as well needs to be communicated and a "team approach" needs to be adopted.  Parents cannot do it by themselves and neither can educators.  As community members we must focus on tackling the discrepancy between best practice and current practice.  Educators must feel that it is ok to admit that something needs to change.  Schools do not exist in isolation to the community but as part of it. 

The notion of the school being the centre of the community needs to be revisited.  The services these children require should be accessible through the school and agencies should be working in unison rather than in opposition or duplication.  Speech and occupational therapists, doctors, dentists, mental health workers, youth workers, psychologists and centre link services should be accessible within a “community schooling” framework.  Parents can then access the services they require all in one area.  The sharing and collaboration of people creates a community that is empowered to tackle the specific issues that exist in that particular community.   Scotland (1999) has created schools that address the concerns raised in this discussion see:  http://www.infed.org/schooling/s-newcs.htm

The commitment to changing the current condition does not reside with one group within the community but from all the members of the community.  Creating innovative schools that serve the needs of all children in my belief can be achieved if we utilize a team approach not an “us against them” attitude.  I acknowledge there are many barriers to community schooling but I feel that change is imminent.  Productive partnerships may be the key to expanding and assisting in outcomes for all children and families within our communities. 

Comments

Schooling

We have to get away from the factory model of big identical schools. It is relatively easy to detect which children will be unhappy in the regular set up. Many children on the spectrum or with ADHD etc can thrive if placed in a supportive, responsive and intelligent system. My own children often came into their own when liberated from the artificial constraints of the school system. My 14 yr old with Asperger's is in a small school where he does the ordinary school-work and no homework. The teachers are approachable and he is not seen as a "problem child" I don't even have to be a full time advocate. The rewards for being good include a free lunch on Mondays. They really know how to keep that army marching. I also like the idea of schools being more open to the community . They can get artificially from the health professionals. 

Schools for Aspergers / High Functioning Autism children

Hi, great to hear such an honest and considered perspective. I feel for the teachers who watch children in their care flounder in an education system that just doesn't meet their needs. As a teacher, it must be very disheartening. As a parent of an Aspergers child in crisis in a public school, I for one really appreciate your honesty. It may interest you to know that there is currently a petition for the creation of schools for our Aspergers and High Functioning Autistic children. You can support the petition and view the other comments at this link. Your support would really be appreciated.

http://www.gopetition.us/online/35002/signatures.html

Regards,

Sharron