Inclusion vs. Exclusion
Society is at a Turning Point
by Jack Pearpoint
"Those who are members
of society, and those who are marginalized
from society, have a great need for each other's gifts.
The sand of ordinary life is lived in community where people
their days doing very ordinary things. They write, talk on telephones,
teach children, play with babies, wash dishes, go for walks,
and cry on each other's shoulders. All of this happens in ordinary
on commonplace streets, all the time, everywhere. This very commonness
is a real gift, a real benefit not to be ignored.
The gift of surviving and growing through change belongs to the
Living on the margin either bums you out and kills you, or it
into a dreamer, someone who really knows what sort of change
and who can just about taste it; someone who is prepared to do
to bring about change. If these dreamers are liberated, if they
brought back into the arms of society, they become the architects
new community; a community that has a new capacity to support
everyone's needs and interactions."
(Judith Snow at Frontier College, October 1988, 89th Annual Meeting).
Our society has reached a turning point
where we must make decisions about values, direction and budgets.
We no longer have the luxury of buying a piece of all
the solutions - and thus never having to answer hard questions.
The hard questions are about values - what do we believe in?
What kind of future do we want for our children? How do we get
My analysis identifies two opposing trends,
two waging factions inclusion versus exclusion. This dilemma
is broader than "schooling" and education. Most post-
industrialized societies have begun to come to terms with the
fact of limited resources. The debate is between people who believe
in exclusivity and those who believe in inclusion (egalitarian
opportunity as the predominant value).
I believe that inclusive options
(all welcome) will utilize the talents of people who would be
discarded and written off in the exclusive model. The
outsiders will bring new perspectives and new talents
to policy conundrums where we are in a rut and need fresh
The meaning of a policy of exclusion is
revealed by a reliable senior government official's retort
when asked "What should we do about those who aren't in
the main stream?" He responded partly in jest, partly
in frustration: "We train the best, and shoot the rest."
The comment was off-hand but identifies the dilemma. The unstated
underlying assumptions of exclusion are, among others, that:
We are not all equal in capacity or value.
It is not feasible to give equal opportunity.
We must choose and thus train an elite
who will take care of the rest.
They will benefit through the trickle-down
Inclusion is the opposite and works from
We are unique in value; however, each has
All people can learn.
All people have contributions to make.
We have a responsibility and an opportunity
to give every person the chance to make a contribution.
The criterion for inclusion is breathing,
not IQ, income, colour, race, sex or language. Critics of inclusion
It's too expensive.
know what's best for them.
It can't be done.
As a critic of exclusion, I say:
It's too expensive.
people - know a tremendous amount if asked.
It can be done.
It is unethical, politically unacceptable
and repugnant to write off marginalized people in our society.
The cost of welfare maintenance is unbearable, either socially
or economically. In short, exclusion does not work.
The critics are right if our thinking and
answers are limited to the solutions we already have in place.
I want to think about a new system, one that replaces the old,
not just reforms it. My vision of the new system is based on
the value that everyone belongs - all welcome.
We all have the power to listen to voices
that are seldom heard. If we choose to make the time, to learn
to listen, and to struggle with the pain and frustration that
disempowered people feel, we will see new visions, feel new energy,
and find hope in our future. There is power in the powerless.
We can be catalysts, or encrusted residue. The choice is ours.
Excerpted, with permission from the
author from an article by Jack Pearpoint in Inclusion News, Fall
1990, the Centre for Integrated Education and Community, Toronto,
Ontario, CANADA. Tel: (416) 658-5363.