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As our education systems become more culturally, ethnically and linguistically diverse, rather than benefiting and learning from each other, we still expect all students to be represented within the same curriculum, pedagogy and testing regimen or we form separate enclaves resulting in marginalizaton. When diverse students have physical and/or learning disabilities, marginalization is further exacerbated and problematized. In this paper, the authors theorise within an alternative framework that we have termed relational and culturally responsive inclusion. Based on key understandings from our own research, much of it derived from Kaupapa Māori and Freirean philosophies, we encourage a framework where establishing respectful relationships of interdependence with people is central to both human dignity and praxis. A culturally responsive framework such as this challenges traditional notions of the professional expert working with objectivity; instead it opens up spaces that call for engagement through the establishment of relational and interdependent discourse.


This article was originally published in International Journal of Special Education, volume 30, issue 3, in 2015.

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International Journal of Special Education



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