Georgette Bajada, Anne-Marie Callus & Kurt Borg (2021) Unpretentious education: a Foucaultian study of inclusive education in Malta, Disability & Society, Published online: 27 Jan 2021
This article adopts a theoretical perspective inspired from the work of Michel Foucault to explore the experience of disabled students in Malta. In particular, it studies the discourses and educational practices of five students and their educators. The research explores the idea that students’ voices should be imperative in their Individualised Educational Plan (IEP). The article argues that, although inclusive education is presented as a more progressive and emancipatory model, it is still ridden with similar problems associated with the older paradigm of ‘special education needs’. Disabled students remain individualised, labelled, categorised, treated with special consideration and held personally accountable for their unsuccessful integration in the mainstream educational system. Consequently, the article proposes the idea that genuine inclusive education entails the notion of unpretentious education, that is, the necessity that educators silence their dominant voices; brush aside the hegemonic effects of culturally defined and socially constructed discourses and practices; call out and avoid normalising ways of distinguishing between students; and appreciate the magnitude of the voice of disabled students.
Points of interest
The article explores the experience of disabled students in Malta.
Inclusive education is still associated with special education needs.
Education is truly inclusive when educators do not assume that they know everything about disability.
We should listen to disabled students’ voices and rethink the way we talk about inclusive education, the way we practise it, and the way we think about disabled students.
It is hoped that, then, disabled students will feel that they truly belong in schools, where difference is truly accepted.
It is then that each disabled student can exclaim, ‘being different is okay!’
Keywords: Inclusive education, Foucault, disabled children, critical disability studies