When I started writing this blog my motivation was largely centred on providing a platform of discussion for the students with whom I work in Bangalore. I must confess that I was a reluctant blogger in the early stages of this process. I had been encouraged by colleagues at the university who are far more in tune with the digital age than I am, or ever will be. Over the course of a relatively short time it became apparent that a much broader circle of people were either regular or occasional readers of my ramblings, and it is always interesting to see the comments that people post in response to what I say, or read the email messages from those who appear not to have the confidence to post their ideas on line.
Yesterday was a particularly heartening day in respect of the responses received to my brief piece Dancing Together to the Same Inclusive Tune. I had been musing on an exchange of emails with one of my Bangalore based students who is working towards her dissertation and the challenges that she has faced in gaining access to a good range of research based literature. The reason I was so pleased with responses to this simple blog was that by yesterday evening a number of people had empathised with this student’s situation and had made the effort to contact me either through the blog, or directly via email to send their ideas, copies of papers, details of video recordings or offering helpful contacts. John’s posted comments reminded me of the excellent work of the Laban centre and Tina sent a very interesting video and a link to the Birmingham Royal Ballet and their work with disabled children. Swathi, herself a dancer in India is now in direct contact with my student and has a number of interesting contacts. Carmel and Anita both posted messages related to their personal encounters with dance for children with special educational needs, and Jayashree drew attention to the work of Tripura Kashyap and dance with disabled children in India. Miriam in Ireland made some profound observations about how dance is being used in a therapeutic manner in that country. An email from the USA included a paper that has been passed on and other papers were forwarded to me from Ireland and Australia. With all of this support and helpful information coming in I received a grateful mail from my student in Bangalore who says thank you to everyone and that whereas she was previously struggling to find enough literature, “I have plenty to read now!”
The successful outcomes of this electronic exchange made me reflect upon the generosity of spirit that characterises teachers working to create more inclusive approaches to teaching. Not so many years ago it would have been almost impossible to elicit a response to a call for help or advice from people all around the world. Yesterday’s series of responses demonstrates how there is now a shared commitment to address issues, about which we are all concerned and to enable teachers and children to make progress towards a more inclusive education system.
Every day I receive an electronic report indicating from which parts of the globe individuals have logged in and accessed this blog. To date people from 94 countries have accessed the blog (though I suspect that many stumble upon it by accident and never return!) In England in recent years we have discussed the notion of creating communities of learners, where individuals with common interests come together to share their experiences and ideas for the benefit of a wider community. Yesterday’s reactions indicate to me that there are many people around the world who share a desire to create an inclusive community of learners for support of those who work with marginalised children.
My simple focus for today is therefore to say thank you to all of those teachers, parents and students who have indicated a willingness to share their knowledge, learning and experiences, and to help others who have a similar commitment and focus. It is through such generosity that we can have hopes to create schools and education systems that benefit all learners. Do please keep sending your replies and sharing your knowledge, experiences and expertise with others.