Do Schools Enable Community?

Author: Joyce Bullivant

Joyce asks a rarely asked question: Are schools actually helping us create better and stronger communities?

I was listening to a documentary about a writer whose family were originally from the Punjab and how he felt education had isolated him from his Sikh heritage. His complaint was not unusual. But my thoughts went on to another tack about community and schools.

How I remember my children’s first days at school

Tiny creatures in school uniform being shut away in a big building and apart from the community that surrounds it. 

I was aware that from then on they had experiences that were no longer shared within the family. They had siblings in the school after the first one went, and friends from the neighbourhood in their class. But the disconnect with family and older members of the community starts there.

For a child with a disability this disconnect with family and community may well be lifelong. The question that came to mind: is the government sanctioned separation a good thing for the community?

I tried googling the question. Not a very scientific method. Nowhere was there a mention of it being good or bad for the community. All writings seem to be purely child centred. Some children needing a protective atmosphere of a special school, some are better in a mainstream environment. 

I know the arguments. It was one subject of my postgrad dissertation many decades ago. There was very little research to be found then on the impact to the family including able-bodied siblings of separating the child from them. Even less on a community that never meets a disabled child. It doesn’t seem to have changed much.

There is an undercurrent of debate about whether a diverse community is a good thing or a bad thing as if any community is made up of identical people in looks or beliefs or levels of intelligence. 

Quick research would seem to indicate that there are many schools that are diverse and manage that diversity in a positive way. They do also reach out to the families of those children. 

But is the system as it stands handicapping rather than enabling greater community cohesion? 

Can separating people with disabilities from general society be damaging to society?

Is saying some children need a more protective environment more an admission of society’s failure than being helpful to the child?

Is the focus on education as providing qualifications for a job damaging people with disabilities right to an education?

Are schools damaging to social cohesion?

Why do we shut children in boxes both physically and ideologically?

The publisher is Citizen Network Research. Do Schools Enable Community? © Joyce Bullivant 2022.

Article | 31.03.22

education, Inclusion, Inclusive Education, England, Article

Joyce Bullivant


Coordinator Timewalk project & community heritage promoter

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