Since the publication of the Salamanca statement (UNESCO 1994), inclusive schooling has formed a growing part of the deliberations of the special education community. Inclusive schooling research in Australia in the main continues to reproduce traditions of the special education field, emphasising the dominant psychological perspectives that have been superimposed on inclusive education discourses. At the fifth International Congress of Special Education (ISEC 2000) held in Manchester, ‘the death knell of the concept of special education’ (ISEC 2000) was announced. The concept proposed by Mike Oliver, Professor of Disability Studies at the University of Greenwich, asserts an end to understandings of diversity dependent on medical, psychological and charity-based discourses. From a recent study of inclusive schooling policy, and drawing from poststructuralist methodology, I suggest an approach to research, policy development and practice that questions traditionalist theorising in the special education field. Reflecting on the implementation of the Inclusion of Students with Disabilities Policy (DECCD 1995) in the Tasmanian government school system, I outline my alignment with Oliver’s view and highlight how questions of epistemology and reconstructions of research methodologies are central to rethinking understandings of difference. I also illustrate a methodological orientation that offers possibilities for a different science to take place, thereby understanding diversity as multiple and contradictory – and beyond the single ‘detective story’ (Gough 1998) of the medical, psychological and charity-based discourses that circulate in schools as the populist conceptions of ‘inclusion’.
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