This past week I was able to catch up on some reading of various magazines to which I subscribe. While I have always believed fiercely in the notion of inclusion, I was reminded, as I read, of its importance, its complexity, and our role as educators and schools in facilitating it.
The role of educators as facilitators was highlighted well by Temba Maqubela, Headmaster of Groton School, a co-ed, independent boarding and day school in Massachusetts. In his article entitled “Inclusion,’ from the bi-annual publication Independent Schools, Maqubela says, “Of all the groups in society, we, as educators, must be impatient for inclusion. Inclusion, the idea, is not a hard sell. Inclusion, the reality, can be. While most people embrace diversity…very few of us take the next logical step: to include. Beyond diversity is inclusion.”
As a strategic goal, the understanding and leveraging of diversity in all aspects of our girls’ and staff’s experience is something the School is moving towards in a purposeful way. Over the last year and a half, St. Clement’s School has been having thoughtful and important conversations about equity and inclusion that reflect broad areas of diversity. Our staff has had, and will continue to take part in, regular facilitated training, and our students have entered into conversations both informal and facilitated. Nonetheless, as Maqubela suggests, the notion of inclusion is one thing, its reality, existence and implementation, another.
I have often found that while we feel we are being inclusive in our approaches, there are still people who feel less accepted, and systems that could be more open.
As we continue to work as a school to reflect, understand and leverage each person’s differences and identities, it will be important to continue to educate and train ourselves and our community. We must remain impatient about reaching a point where each person’s inclusion in our community is a reality.