Inclusive Education Program 2019 – Sarah Adams
Hello, I’m Sarah and I study a Bachelor of Education (K-12) at CSU’s Albury-Wodonga campus.
In Session 3 of 2018-19, I travelled to Austria to partake in a program at The University of Graz. For three weeks, I studied Inclusive Education: Theories and Practices from an International Perspective. I was one of 14 students, selected from universities across Australia, who applied for the program.
I found out about the program through my own research. I discovered AIM Overseas, an Australian organisation, which offers international programs in many fields of study. Relevant information about the program such as location, lecturers, inclusions and cost are provided on their website. AIM Overseas programs may be credited towards your degree. In my case, I will receive subject credit.
If you haven’t already guessed, the title ‘The Sound of Inclusive Education’ references The Sound of Music and the program we studied. The title was created by one of my peers as our group chat name and so I thought that it would be a fitting title for this testimonial as tribute to my group. Before I explain what the trip entails, I’d like to first mention that I’m grateful I had the privilege to meet such intelligent, kind and hilarious people. The experience was such an adventure and I’m glad I had the opportunity to share it with them.
We had a very busy schedule. The three weeks were filled with academic sessions, field trips, cultural activities and adventures of our own.
In the below photo, Edvina Bešić, PhD, second from the left, and Univ.-Prof. Dr. Barbara Gasteiger Klicpera, first from the right, are two of four lecturers from the University of Graz. The lecturers of the academic sessions were incredibly knowledgeable, enthusiastic and engaging. Within these academic sessions we learnt about the concepts and theories of inclusive education, its historical development, international (political) discourses and various issues related to its implementation.
The academic aspect of the program includes field trips to educational institutions situated locally in Graz. We had the chance to observe differentiation in practice and interact not only with the professionals of each institution but also the children. On the first field trip, we were divided into small groups across classes within a special school. Invited to the music therapy room, with a few of my peers, we joined in singing and playing percussion instruments; we even taught them a few Australian songs such as Home among the Gumtrees. On the second field trip, we attended a school with an inclusive approach to education; students with special educational needs are supported within a mainstream school. During this trip we saw the same level of comfort and support given to students at the special school. Both experiences were extraordinary! I believe the professional benefits I can apply to my future career have increased after taking part in this international experience.
Graz is a stunning location with centuries old history and beautiful architecture. Transport is simple to navigate and there is so much to see. During the guided tour of Graz, we learnt about the history of the town, the landmarks and locations we could explore in our own time.
The clock tower was one of the main attractions and can be seen from the town’s main square. It is incredibly beautiful and the view that can be seen from the base of the clock tower is absolutely stunning. Looking out you can see the red roofs covered in a light dusting of snow, along with an incredible city view.
Our cultural coordinator helped us navigate our way to a number of sites and locations outside of Graz including Vienna, Hallstatt and Admont. It is almost impossible to put into words the experience I have had exploring these incredible places. I have learnt so much about the culture and history of Austria. I’m still in disbelief that I actually had this opportunity, certainly one I’ll never forget!
To finish, here are a few of the most memorable places during the program…