A cultural historical activity theoretical (CHAT) framework for understanding the construction of inclusive education from Turkish teachers' and parents' perspectives
Inclusive education has become a global movement through the policies of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (e.g., Salamanca Statement). These policies led many developing nations to adopt these policies in their national policy agendas. Turkey has developed inclusive education policies that deal with the education of students with disabilities (SwD). However, although SwD are the largest group who are marginalized and excluded from educational opportunities, there are other groups (e.g., cultural-linguistic minorities) who experience educational inequities in access and participation in learning opportunities and deal with enduring marginalization in education. This study examined a) Turkish teachers’ and parents’ conceptualizations of inclusive education for diverse groups of students, namely SwD, Kurdish students (KS), and girls, who experience educational inequities, b) how their construction of students’ identities influenced students' educational experiences in relation to inclusive education, c) how their stories revealed identities, differences and power, and what role privilege played in marginalization, labeling, and exclusion of students within conceptualizations of inclusive education. I used cultural historical activity theory (Engeström, 1999) and figured worlds (Holland et al., 1998) to understand the teachers’ and parents’ interpretations and experiences about inclusive education. This qualitative study was conducted in four different schools in Maki, a small southwestern city in Turkey. A classroom photo, with a vignette written description, and a movie documentary were used as stimuli to generate focus group discussions and individual interviews. I conducted classroom observations to explore the context of schooling and how students were positioned within the classrooms. Classroom artifacts were additionally collected, and the data were analyzed using a constant-comparative method. The study findings demonstrated that students had different equity struggles in access, meaningful participation, and having equal outcomes in their education. The education activity system was not inclusive, but rather was exclusive by serving only certain students. SwD and girls had difficulty accessing education due to cultural-historical practices and institutional culture. On the other hand, Turkish-only language policy and practices created tensions for KS to participate fully in education activity systems. Although stakeholders advocated girls’ education, many of them constructed SwD’s and KS’ identities from deficit perspectives.