About the PICS tool
“From my perspective, the single greatest feature of PICS is how it encourages school staffs and school communities to reflect on their own practice and then move forward from that point. As long as there is a continuous forward motion towards full inclusion (in the true sense of the word) school staff and school communities remain vibrant, healthy and diverse (I’m thinking of our ‘gears’ logo here). When forward motions bogs down or stagnates schools and communities suffer, learning becomes less relevant, and a disconnect between stakeholders reduces risk taking and diversity. Through personal reflection, talk, and qualitative evidence, PICS encourages and promotes healthy, continuous, forward motion towards utopia, full inclusion.” Michael Bennett, retired Inclusion Teacher, River East Transcona School Division
The PICS tool was developed in Manitoba where inclusion is associated with the legal mandate for appropriate educational programming (AEP). Manitoba Education has a “philosophy of inclusion” (2001) and goals (2011) that include: “to ensure that education practice and policy in Manitoba is guided by the principle of inclusion.” PICS is consistent with Manitoba Education’s philosophical and legal directions.
Inclusion is about everyone. We can gauge a society’s cultural inclusiveness by how those most marginalized are treated. Many individuals and groups have historically been segregated, underestimated, and underserved by various systems and supports of society including people:
- With special needs related to physical, intellectual, or communication disability;
- Who have First Nations, Inuit or Metis heritage;
- For whom English is a new language;
- With emotional or behavioural challenges;
- Who are at risk of bullying due to personal differences such as gender, sexual orientation, religion;
- Who live in poverty, and
- Who have lived with or are living with trauma.
PICS draws attention to the treatment of traditionally marginalized individuals and groups in the belief that a society that effectively includes them is likely doing a good job of welcoming and serving all its members.
PICS provides an inventory and analysis of current school practices with an emphasis on those that encourage inclusion. It helps schools plan for purposeful improvement. However, PICS is most powerful as a learning tool. Engaging in the inventory fosters conversation about what good teaching means – from the broadest values, to the most specific classroom practices – and how to translate that into everyday practice.
PICS seems most useful when a school is already considering democracy, student and parent involvement, and educating the whole child. If staff members are not conversant with ideas like these, fully including all students in the school’s academic and social life might seem hopelessly far-fetched. Taking the time to research, consider and discuss the origins of the concept of inclusion can provide valuable background to using PICS in your school community.