How to Begin Changing Mindsets
🌎 Happy Earth Day! Carol Quirk drops by to talk about what it takes to change mindsets toward inclusive education.
And a very happy Friday, or whatever day you happen to be in when this message gets to you.
A couple of quick shout-outs before we get into the meat of The Weeklyish.
First, to the EARTH. Because it’s Earth Day and (guess what) it’s our only one. 😁 So let’s remember to take care of it, everyone.
Second, to my friend Mark Crenshaw, the Assistant Director of the Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University. He tweets out a #FollowFriday list of people in disability and education advocacy every Friday for, I don’t know how long. He keeps mentioning me, and I’m so grateful to be included. Thanks, Mark! And if you are on Twitter, please follow him and all the people on his list.
I’m coming to you from Marietta Coffee Company today. There are several fantastic local coffee places if you live in the North Atlanta Metro area. Cool Beans at the Marietta Square, Independent Grounds in Kennesaw, and Tinto’s Coffee near Kennesaw State. Sorry for all the name drops; I guess I’m just in the promoting mood.
Recently, Carol Quirk (our CEO) and I were in Oklahoma City for an Inclusion Symposium with school administrators. And one big question kept coming up.
How do we begin to change the mindsets of school staff toward inclusive education?
And so I invited Carol to chime in on The Weeklyish to get her take on where to begin changing mindsets.
Tim: Hi Carol!
Carol: Hi, Tim! For everybody out there who doesn't know me, I'm Carol Quirk. I'm the CEO of the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education. Glad to be here.
Changing the mindset of anybody for any reason is not an easy thing. People's mindset generally comes from some experience, some belief systems, some tradition, family culture, ethnic culture, or other places. In my experience, when people have a particular mindset, telling them things doesn't do much of anything in terms of changing it. We have, for example, in the field of inclusive education, over 40 years of research that very specifically tells us that when students with disabilities—ranging from students with learning disabilities, to students with speech impairments, students with emotional disabilities, with intellectual disabilities, sensory impairments—that they learn more when they're included than if they were segregated. And we have research that looks at different patterns of geography that tells us decisions are made based on where you live and not based on what you present. Telling people that research doesn't change people's minds if they already have a certain belief system in place because their justification is coming from somewhere within themselves.
I think that what we have to do as change agents, is think about "the why." You know, why do they believe that? Most people are not going to be coming from a negative space. Understanding "the why" can help us in deciding what we want to expose them to. So changing the mindset can only begin, I think, with conversations that are based on some kind of mutual reflection. That may begin the process. That will begin a shared understanding of what it is we're talking about and an opportunity to share, if the conversation is nonjudgmental, to share our why and what is contributing to our thinking about why a child should or should not be included. But bottom line, the only way that I have ever witnessed a change in mindset is when educators have actually experienced the change that happens for a child when they are included. Whether it's a single child or a teacher's role changes because before they were a self-contained teacher and now they're collaborating in a general ed classroom, or because one of their—or more of their—students left them and is now in a general ed setting, when they have witnessed the change, that is what changes mindsets.
But I think you can still begin with conversations to make it comfortable for people to start crawling out of what they've been thinking and possibly consider something new.
This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
Thanks to Carol Quirk for dropping by The Weeklyish. If you want more information about how you can work with MCIE to bring systemic change to your school or district, go to mcie.org.
Have a great weekend inclusionists!
In The News
What I’m Reading
What I’m Watching
What I’m Listening To
What’s in my Timeline
Emily Smith @Em1lySmI’m just a girl, standing in front of the internet, asking you, for the love of goodness to stop using ‘Click here’ to embed your links: it’s inaccessible. 🧵 (1)