On February 13th, 2019 there was a community screening of Dan Habib’s “Intelligent Lives”at  Western University’s Faculty of Education. The event was sponsored by RSEKN and the Canadian Research Centre on Inclusive Education.

Before the commencement of the film, there was a short discussion regarding what we believed intelligence was and the purpose of IQ scores. One question asked, “Do you think IQ tests or any standardized test can predict a person’s ability to learn, or their future?” There was a mutual consensus that IQ scores do not define an individual. It was discussed that there were several other factors that are involved in a person’s ability to succeed and how the role of the environment takes a substantial part in the cultivation of skills. I shared how IQ scores do not provide a holistic picture of an individual and that it tends to put a cap on an individual’s worth. It is apparent that IQ scores accentuate what a person cannot do rather than what they can.

The film incorporated three different stories of students who are at different life stages. The first story was about Naieer who was in high school and was included in all his classes. It is evident that Naieer was passionate about painting and his family as well as the school was really attempting to nurture this strength. Considering that Naieer is a tall, Black male living in America, there was a concern that his father had expressed which touches upon intersectionality. A huge concern of Naieer’s father was that the police may target Naieer in the community for “acting weird”. The problem of this situation is that it is well-known that Black males in America tend to be targeted by police. This realistic fear of the father highlights the additional challenges and anxieties that some families may face when it comes to inclusion within the community. This should remind us to be aware of the complexities of intersectionality and how there are many components for when it comes to inclusion inside and outside of school.

The next story was about Micah who was in University. His story focused on the social aspect of life outcomes and he communicated positive life goals such as wanting to get married and to become a parent someday. He conveyed how he observed his parents fighting for him growing up and now he is proud to be doing that for himself. The question raised here is whether we expect life goals to be similar for people with and without intellectual disabilities. The last story shown was about a woman named Naomie. We were able to witness Naomie taking part in job training and getting hired at a beauty school for a paid internship. This outcome is in stark contrast to unpaid and underpaid employment opportunities that are typical for people with intellectual disabilities.

Based on the viewing of this film, it is apparent that inclusion brings empowerment to individuals with a disability and enables them to thrive in the community. After the viewing of the film there was a stimulating dialogue about how in Ontario, we are still fixated on IQ scores as a reason to place children in segregated school settings. I think the takeaway message from this conversation was that we need to remember why inclusion is important in the first place. We never want to return to the days of institutional mistreatment of individuals with intellectual disabilities. Communication between networks is also vital and needs to take place to see how other people in different provinces are incorporating inclusion into their schools. Lastly, what resonated with me the most was that everyone in the film had someone advocating for them. The question is what happens to those in our communities without advocates? How can we become their advocates and not let IQ scores be a barrier for them? In Ontario, we are certainly trying, but it was a mutual understanding at that event that we need and can do better.  

Written by Petra Owusu.

We will know that inclusive education has really become embedded in our culture when the term becomes obsolete

Choosing Outcomes and Accommodations for Children, 3rd ed. Michael F. Giangreco et al.
Petra Owusu