From clinic to classroom: a model of teacher education for inclusion
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One of the challenges associated with the implementation of inclusive education in South Africa is the effective training of teachers to meet diverse learning needs in their classrooms. This article reflects on the pilot years of a postgraduate degree course in inclusive education developed at a South African university, using Cochran-Smith and Lytle’s (1999) concept of “inquiry-as-stance”. Replacing previous courses which focused on equipping students to provide individual support in clinical settings, the course emphasises inclusive teaching strategies appropriate for whole-class teaching. The course is designed to avoid both individual deficit constructions of learner difference and a rigid theory/practice dichotomy. To ensure context relevance and practical implementation of the pedagogies taught, lecturers visited students in their classrooms and provided support and feedback. Students also kept journals, supported one another by sharing experiences, and were assessed on a critical incident report. Course evaluations attest to student satisfaction with the course content and delivery. The difficulties that both students and lecturers encountered while implementing inclusive pedagogies can be explained as challenges associated with change. The article concludes that teachers need to develop a collaborative and classroom-based knowledge-of-inclusive practice by implementing, reflecting on and theorising inclusive pedagogies.