Beyond a seat at the table: imagining educational equity through critical inclusion

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Educational Review




Interlocking mechanisms of exclusion function as gatekeepers to high-quality learning in schools, which perpetuate oppressive conceptions of ability, learning, and intelligence. Across educational ecosystems, these intersecting forms of oppression—including but not limited to racism, ableism, and colonialism—are reified through exclusionary practices that hoard learning opportunities. In this paper, we contend that learning-access disparities are at the crux of educational inequalities, and that theoretical fragmentation across educational disciplines has limited our understanding of entrenched patterns of exclusion and potential solutions. This fragmentation has led to siloed equity conversations and solutions; therefore, we articulate a conceptual framework for inclusive education: Critical Inclusion (InCrit). In doing so, we first engage in a critical-historical review of educational inclusion, including how it has been theorised and operationalised in both research and praxis. We next describe the cross-pollination of the foundational theories on which the conceptual framework stands to emphasise intersectionality and emancipatory education in relation to the vast scholarship on critical inclusion. We then present the framework’s core components, which represent connectors between theory and practice, and illustrative examples. We conclude with a discussion of the cross-systems change required to make meaningful progress toward emancipatory education for all students and achieve critical inclusion in practice.


critical theory, emancipatory education, Inclusion, InCrit, race/ethnicity, special education


Special Education