There is variety among students, including those that are outside the mainstream student population, and we know that each learner is unique in his or her manner of learning and of expressing what he knows. However, there are reasonable limits to the degree and types of variance that any teacher can be expected to manage effectively. There are cognitive, emotional, and developmental differences that stretch beyond the capacities of any single classroom.
Consider developmental differences. These are easily recognized and understood. For example, most of us would think it inefficient to teach first graders, eighth graders, and twelfth graders in the same classroom. While there might be some value in such an exercise, it does not provide an effective model, and certainly does not help us to attend well to the needs of individuals in the class. Students might learn something in such a setting, but it would be very different from any of our standard curricula. Similarly, teaching a group of students who have widely varied cognitive skills in the same class may not lead to high levels of success for students at either extreme. Inclusion is a well-intentioned idea, but anyone who has worked with the degrees of variation in ability and motivation often found in a typical public school will recognize clearly that inclusion has limits. To be truly student-centered we must bethinking about what is best for the child and not treat inclusion as a sacred cow.
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