What is your philosophy as an educator? My philosophy became apparent to me in 2018 when I heard Norman Kunc speak at the EARCOS/SENIA conference. Norman talked about fostering an individual's ability by providing them with opportunities. Opportunities arise when we are collaboratively problem solving and working with individuals and not doing and speaking on their behalf. When we presume competence in individuals, believe that ability can take many forms, and that everyone has strengths to build on, we are on track for a more inclusive world for all.
There are many days set aside to recognize the strengths and accomplishments of differently abled individuals. These days allow us all to pause as educators and reflect on our philosophies and how we are contributing to shifting the lenses by which the world views and accepts differences. Two days that celebrate neurodiversity include #WDSD and #WAAD.
World Down Syndrome Day, recognized on March 21st is a day that celebrates ability and creates a single global voice worldwide advocating for the rights, inclusion and wellbeing of people with Down syndrome. Many schools and organizations joined the #SENIAcommunity and lead a successful #lotsofsocks campaign at their school or organization. We hope that this day sparks a call to action and that we all continue to advocate for people with Down syndrome each and every day.
World Autism Day will be recognized this week, on April 2nd. It is a day set aside to recognize people with autism. This day aims to increase worldwide understanding and acceptance of people with autism, foster worldwide support and inspire a kinder, more inclusive world. Dr. Stephen Shore, longtime SENIA member says that “If you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism.” SENIA spoke with Dr. Stephen Shore around the 4 A’s of Autism: Awareness, Acceptance, Appreciation & Action during a SENIA Happy Hour podcast. I invite you to have a listen.
SENIA has also designed a presentation you can use for your school. We hope you take action and share it with your school community.
To quote Dr. Seuss, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” As educators it is our collective responsibility to empower our students to celebrate what makes us all unique while providing our students with the skills and knowledge required to take on the world. At the same time, we are responsible to educate the world on how to embrace and celebrate differences. Having a philosophy sets the foundation for all we do. Over the next few weeks, reflect on your teaching practices and strategies. Spend some time revisiting and refining your philosophy of education. I challenge you to have a philosophy that focuses on student learning while balancing our role as educators to advocate and foster a more inclusive world for all.