Nathalie Bélanger

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Nathalie Bélanger
Professor and holder of the Research Chair on the Inclusion and the French-Language School

Bureau: 613-562-5800 ext. 4159

Courriel professionnel: nbelange@uOttawa.ca

Nathalie Bélanger

Biography

Inclusion and the French-Language School

Faculty of Education

Research Focus

This project is part of a larger research program examining the processes of inclusion and exclusion in schools from a sociological perspective and with regard to the accepted definition of an open school in a minority French-language milieu. Consequently, it will address:

student experiences and parental perspectives in a minority French-language milieu;
levels of parental partnership and assigned parental roles given that school staff ultimately decide on matters of inclusion and exclusion in a normal classroom situation; and
the pedagogy of inclusion, which is defined as a space in which children can express themselves and communicate their wants and needs in terms of academic socialization.

Research Relevance

Inclusion constitutes a major challenge for the French-language educational community. More precisely, this research project will attempt to outline what schoolchildren and their parents have said they want and need in terms of pedagogical inclusion.

For the purpose of this project, the classroom is to be considered a political entity in which all forms of behaviour are regulated by school staff and where a set of rules governs daily life. The school itself is to be understood as a modern environment where the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion are complex issues, a natural consequence of the linguistic plurality of subjects, the variance of academic performance, physically or academically-challenged pupils, and the many affiliations (political, religious, ethnic, racial, etc.) potentially reflected in a single classroom.

In that light, the research results are likely to be of particular interest to school boards as well as to parents and ministries of education. The study should contribute significantly to what is already known about pedagogical inclusion, while raising further questions and fanning the debate on the subject currently taking place in Canada's French-language and educational milieus.

Inclusion and the French-language school

In general terms, the debate surrounding the subject of inclusion in Canada's French-language communities, including those in Ontario, is poorly informed. This project, for example, is the first of its kind to take into account points of view specifically expressed by schoolchildren and their parents regarding inclusion and the academic experience in the context of minority French-language schools.

For this investigator, the project is merely a continuation of previously conducted research, notably two major projects that allowed her to develop a level of expertise on the twin subjects of minorities and French-language education and the question of difference, as well as a deeper understanding of the francophone educational milieu in Ontario.

Objectives and questions

The project has two principal objectives. The first is to identify which parents participate – and the manner in which they participate – jointly with the main academic players in decisions concerning their children. The second is to examine what the schoolchildren themselves have to say about the matter of difference and their needs in francophone communities.

These objectives raise the following questions:

  1. What role do parents and tutors play in the education of schoolchildren with regard to their relationship with academic staff?
  2. In what way do schoolchildren define their wants, needs and experiences in a minority French-language school, particularly those who, by definition, are handicapped by learning disabilities?

Minority French-language schools are notoriously plagued by recruitment and retention problems. Given the current climate and the diversity that characterizes our schools, this examination of the facts is probably overdue.

Awards and Accomplishments

  • Recipient of research grants awarded by SSHRCC, the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and the Literacy Secretariat of the Ontario Ministry of Education and Training.
  • Work published by the Éditions du CTNERHI (Paris)
  • Chapters published by the Presses universitaires de France (PUF) and The Open University Press
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