Beyond the binary: rethinking teachers’ understandings of and engagement with inclusion

Stuart Woodcock*, Ian Hardy

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    21 Citations (Scopus)


    This article presents research into Canadian elementary and secondary teachers’ understandings of inclusion. The research investigates how a sample of 120 teachers in the southern part of Ontario defined inclusion, and the extent to which they believed an inclusive classroom is an effective way to teach all students. The article draws upon literature into how inclusion is currently defined followed by research into the politics of diversity in inclusive education; the latter signals the socio-political aporia which attends many understandings of inclusion. The study employs Nancy Fraser’s conception of justice as requiring redistribution, recognition, and representation; Fraser’s approach also demands attention to issues of recognition as intimately connected with concerns about social status. The findings reveal teachers’ relative lack of attention to issues of resourcing, but considerable emphasis upon issues of representation. While issues of recognition are largely valued, there is a tendency to reify categories of student identity, rather than challenging concerns about the lack of social status attending such foci. The research reveals a push ‘beyond the binary’ of considering teachers’ practices as either inclusive or exclusive, and how teachers’ engagement with resource provision, recognition of learners, and representation of student needs exists along contingent and intersecting spectra.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)667-686
    Number of pages20
    JournalInternational Journal of Inclusive Education
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


    • inclusion
    • inclusive classrooms
    • special education
    • social justice
    • Nancy Fraser


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