Spotlight - The Idea of Inclusion: Diamonds are Always Diamonds

In this blog from the Derby College Group, Project and Delivery Manager Pete Benyon, (inspired by the thoughts of Sarah Le-Good, Director of Inclusion), discusses the value of celebrating the diversity of individuals and how the idea of inclusion can transform society for the better.

Diamonds are always diamonds – but does their value depend on how they’re cut and the quality of the light in which they’re viewed?

Like diamonds, there are people with unique or rare characteristics who can see, do and create things by seeing the world differently. They are invaluable to any business, organisation or society that is trying to engage with the exponentially changing world. Those that experience, explore and navigate being human differently, who are in the minority, should be seen as valuable and unique as diamonds because they can tell you things, show you things and do things that you can’t get anywhere else or in any other way.

Sadly, difference in our society is not always valued. Employment rates for people who are neurodiverse remain consistently low with only 22% of autistic adults being in employment.

Innovation comes from difference

If you look at either a list of the innovators from any field in recent history or famous people, you will find a lot of the same names, from Temple Grandin and Elon Musk, to Billie Eilish, Alan Turing and Greta Thunberg. Whilst not all have been labelled neurodivergent, all are considered to have driven progress and change through a different approach. Would they have done so without being neurodivergent or breaking away from the status quo?

Opportunities are not equal

Individuals are not always given the same opportunities. Even when people are recognised with a neurodivergence and diagnosed, they can be marginalised by the very thing which should be viewed as their unique strength. The only purpose of a label or diagnosis should be to remove barriers, to trigger reasonable adjustments, anticipate need and include further support. This is the theory, but it is not the practice, due in part to unconscious bias and prevailing ideologies. At the Centres for Excellence in SEND we adopt the social model of disability placing the onus for change on society rather than individuals. This short video demonstrates this very nicely.

Being actively inclusive

It is not enough to not actively exclude – this is not being inclusive. To be inclusive, we need to actively change, adapt and pro-actively promote inclusion. This takes time, effort and challenge but the alternative, as innumerable statistics prove, cannot continue.

Diamonds are diamonds, no matter if they are cut or rough, generic or rare, and whether they are perceived as valuable or not. Diamonds should be valued for being infinitely idiosyncratic and so should individuals, whether diagnosed or undiagnosed, typical or divergent, disabled or non-disabled. Nobody should be restricted from accessing a building, service, experience or opportunity for being perceived as different or because something works differently for them than the accepted norm.

Find out more information about the Centres for Excellence in SEND.

If you would like to discuss anything about this blog and/or anything else inclusion and curriculum, please get in touch with Pete at peter.benyon@derby-college.ac.uk.

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