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Embracing Diversity and Creating Inclusive Spaces


Toolika Wadhwa

DIVERSITY, SPECIAL NEEDS AND INCLUSION IN EARLY YEARS EDUCATION
Edited by Sophia Dimitriadi
Sage Publications, Delhi, 2015, pp. 226, Rs. 1095.00

DISABILITY, GENDER AND THE TRAJECTORIES OF POWER
Edited by Asha Hans
Sage Publications, Delhi, 2015, pp. 278, Rs. 995.00

FINDING NEEMA
By J. Reynolds
Hachette, India, 2013, pp. 340, Rs. 399.00

VOLUME XXXIX NUMBER 12 December 2015

The books by Dimitriadi, Hans, and Reynolds present diverse perspectives to understanding disability and inclusion. Dimitriadi’s edited book provides an overview of research work and perspectives from across the world in the area of disability studies, with particular focus on policy and pedagogic interventions. The anthology by Hans presents a fresh look at disability in understanding it as a gendered construct. The use of first person narratives and autobiographies has provided voice to disabled women that was missing from existing literature in the area. Reynolds’s description of parenting has brought to light the need for increasing research in the area of engaging with disabilities and the difficulties faced in the absence of awareness. Dimitriadi’s book addresses diversity not just in terms of disability, but also in terms of individual identity. The perspective on inclusion goes beyond shared spaces. The key themes addressed in the book include special education, disability, language learning, personal, social, emotional and moral development, as well as cultural and gender issues. The book makes a case for addressing diversity and inclusion in education, during early childhood. The first section presents significant insights and learnings from research studies and projects. For instance, Mary Moloney and Eucharia McCarthy who explored the shared experiences of children with special education needs and early childhood practitioners, conclude that merely placing children in inclusive settings is not enough to meet their needs. Mary Wangechi Kamunyu’s work on language issues in preschool education in Kenya emphasizes the role of language in developing literacy and numeracy skills on the one hand and interpersonal skills and peer relations/ group memberships in children, on the other. Hayal Koksal’s work describes the implementation of a project for teaching collaboration during early childhood through the use of technology. Section II of the book addresses approaches and methods of inclusive education. Dimitriadi’s own work with Persona Dolls in Greece emphasizes the need to understand diversity by going beyond merely including the physically impaired. Diversity includes all those who are vulnerable to exclusionary processes. Persona dolls and stories developed around them were used to tackle exclusion and discrimination, as well as to unlearn prejudices. The work thus highlights the need for generating greater awareness and valuing diversity, emphasizing that ideas of fairness, taking a stance and thinking for themselves, compassion and expression need to be developed early in life. Dorothy R. Howie emphasizes the importance ...


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