Project INSIDE in het Nederlands
INSIDE stands for "INclusive education of children with developmental disabilities through basic Skill Instruction and Developmental Education". It is an initiative of 4 educational institutions from 4 different European countries. INSIDE is supported by Comenius Programme 3.1 of the European Commission.
develop prerequisites of learning-how-to-learn of all learners
prevent school failure of people with learning difficulties (of all degrees in severity) and at risk learners
activate cognitive development , i.e. develop basic learning-, studying-, language- as well as social skills
increase chances of successful inclusive education
become more flexible in differentiating teaching content and basic skills to a variety of pupils with a variety of needs
adopt a more process-oriented teaching style
Design a post-graduate training course in how to boost cognitive, language and social development of at risk and learning disabled children, with a special focus on inclusion into a normal school curriculum
Develop a teachers’ guide and teacher training materials
test the course and materials in pilot groups of teachers and children
Awareness raising activities: conferences, meetings
Teachers in mainstream schools often lack sufficient means and awareness how to instruct children, who do not seem to learn easily, in acquiring basic thinking, reading, writing and arithmetic skills. They may have problems with differentiation of content in the classroom, lack of knowledge of methods and effective approaches, because they usually base their teaching styles on transmitting content, not process.
Therefore these children become educationally “at-risk” and drop out early from the school system. In many countries they are referred to special education and often end up in a separate, protected environment with low stimulation and challenges. In this way they often enlarge the population of unemployed, excluded individuals. If one wants to change or prevent this situation of social exclusion, one needs to start early.
International organisations recommended Inclusive Education as a better way to ensure social integration and prevent social exclusion. In 1993 the United Nations launched an appeal with the Declaration on Equal Opportunities for the Disabled (where an urgent recommendation was made to include special children in ordinary schools) ; the UNESCO Conference in Salamanca (Spain -1994) on Inclusive Education stated that the best environment for special children to develop is the mainstream school; and the European Commission’s Treaties of Maastricht and Amsterdam, contained a non-discrimination clause towards the disabled.
But inclusion is not enough. Teachers, rather than merely transferring content and instructing skills, need to be made aware and be trained to enhance and develop the child's cognitive learning processes. The whole school system and teaching style need to be transformed. The European Commission's D.G.V. White Paper "Teaching and Learning; towards a cognitive society" explicitly stated that societies should make more effort to transform the school system towards a more cognitive approach, with a focus on teaching thinking skills and flexibility for everyone, if Europe wants to adapt to ever-changing economical and social circumstances and demands. This is particularly difficult for educationally at-risk pupils, of which there are so many in the Community.
Project INSIDE wants to give a partial answer to these challenges, by combining the idea and practice of inclusion, with the idea of cognitive education.
partners knew each other from meetings at international conferences in
All partners have been using or have developed innovative methods which have proven their effectiveness in instructing children basic conceptual skills, reading , writing and arithmetic, and in understanding the process of learning itself.
national and international work, the partners have access to a large network of
professionals working in education throughout
Orientation towards process-oriented learning: because many children have serious difficulties with the acquisition of knowledge and skills, it is needed to teach them how they can learn. Teaching must be mainly concerned with activating cognitive functions. This is a necessary condition for realising a full inclusion of the child.
Cognitive approach as an entry to more effective learning; to learn how to learn, transversal cognitive skills must be stimulated. They are the prerequisites for all learning. Cognitive functions are used in most aspects of learning, not only in academic subjects but also in relationships, social life and skill learning. Cognition is not the same as mere intellectual stimulation. Aspects of motivation are an inherent part of it. This approach is based on the socio-cultural theory of intelligence of Vygotsky, Piaget, Feuerstein & Nyborg. Language development is an essential prerequisite for cognitive development
Inclusive education, if well organised, is the best way to realize cognitive and social development for all children, including those with a developmental disability. It is considered a social value, as well as a developmental advantage, to have a heterogeneous class population. It is not enough to diversify contents & level of difficulty, but also evaluation standards and methods. There should be assistance by support teachers & volunteers (parents) , composing flexible age groups; peer tutoring, promotion of small group work.
Modifiability: every individual is considered to be modifiable, there are no a priori limits to learning. Modifiability depends, as Feuerstein shows, on the quality of interaction between children and the adults surrounding and educating him, quality which can be characterised by the criteria of mediated learning
Whole-person approach (cognitive- emotional - social) with a focus on the cognitive domain as an entry towards realizing modifiability. It is equally important to stimulate personality and motivational factors - as the ability to follow a goal, commitment, courage, co-operation, curiosity, motivation, cognitive learning strategies, social and coping skills etc. – because all will influence performance
Ecological approach towards intelligence: cognitive development is considered to be mainly influenced by culture, this means by people from the whole environment of the child: parents, neighbours, teachers, peers, parents of peers. Therefore, in order to increase educational success of disadvantaged children at risk of failure ( i.e. those disadvantaged by birth or socio-economic origin) intervention should aim at influencing all these domains
Project INSIDE brings together three pioneering approaches on the domain of cognitive enhancement of learning potential:
Professor Sue Buckley founded the Sarah Duffen Centre for Developmental Disabilities and the Down Syndrome Educational Trust. Touched by the positive experience early reading had on cognitive development of children with Down's syndrome and other developmental delays, she developed an approach, which systematically teaches global word reading at an early age (kindergarten). Later other basic skills as writing and arithmetic are also taught. Teachers are taught how to differentiate curricula towards individual needs. It has enabled many developmentally delayed children to be included in mainstream schools.
Magne Nyborg (1929-1996), pedagogist and professor at
Reuven Feuerstein (International Centre for the Enhancement of Learning Potential, Jerusalem) developped the theory of Structural Cognitive Modifiability (SCM) as a result of his work with deprived refugee children after the World War. He postulates that the limits to learning are as a matter of principle not known a priori. He stresses the social and cultural origin of cognitive development.
Differences in cognitive development cannot be explained exclusively by hereditary, congenital conditions or by environmental determinants such as socio-economic status of parents, cultural differences or familial background, but rather are the result of adequate Mediated Learning Experience (MLE). MLE is defined as the quality of the interaction in which human beings, such as parents, teachers, caregivers as well as peers, who interpose themselves between a stimulus in the environment and an individual, in order to ensure that the stimulus is perceived, grasped and integrated in a meaningful way. It is through MLE that an individual builds up his cognitive functions, prerequisites for independent learning afterwards. Feuerstein distinguishes 12 criteria of MLE.
From this theory, a practical cognitive intervention method (Instrumental Enrichment), dynamic assessment method (LPAD or Learning Propensity Assessment Device) and a set of didactic tools in order to create strong learning environments, have been elaborated
Direct target group
kindergarten school, primary and secondary school teachers of "educationally at risk children"
educational helping staff (educational psychologists, special needs staff, speech therapists or other)
Focus on children with special needs: with learning disability or at risk of developing educational failure, due to various reasons: unfavourable socio-economic circumstances, lack of educational stimuli, family disrupture, organic brain damage, congenital developmental disabilities such as Down's syndrome or other genetic abnormalities
Typically learning children: since learning to think carefully is relevant for everyone, the approaches taught by Project INSIDE are in fact relevant for the whole of the class
Mediation: is relevant for everyone working in education and rehabilitation,
covers the entire age range
Portsmouth Language System: more focused on children with developmental disabilities such as Down’s syndrome or other early interventionists, speech therapists, physiotherapists, remedial teachers
Concept Teaching Model: teachers of kindergarten and primary school age, speech therapists, remedial teachers
Scope: during the project preparation:
all countries in
try-out courses have been run in the four partners’ countries so far:
Voss ( Norway) a beautiful small
town at a lakeside in the mountains between
The objective of this course was to introduce teachers and special needs helping staff to the approach of the INSIDE project, i.e. how to help children in general, particularly children at risk of educational failure, to really fruitfully participate in (mainstream) education by activating their cognitive functions and increasing a teacher’s capacity how to do it.
The course provided an introduction to three important pioneering approaches in cognitive education:
Reindeers at a Lapp Camp A concert in the oldest house in Norway A Canyon in Voss
What can participants expect to be able to do after the course?
It is the partners’ intention to organize an advanced professional training leading to a Master’s Degree in Cognitive Education and Inclusion
The INSIDE partners developped a series of pedagogical materials for use in and out of the classroom, aimed at promoting cognitive development and promoting differentiated teaching:
INSIDE, a teachers' guide a binder with 5 booklets on activating cognitive development of children with or at risk of developmental & learning difficulties, totalling 157 pages. Theoretical as well as practical aspects. Table of contents and summary. Order email@example.com
Down Syndrome issues and information ( comprehensive and practical guides for assisting development and inclusive education of children with Down syndrome, but also relevant for children with other developmental disabilities)
Grunnlaget ( a teachers' guide for practising Nyborg's Concept Teaching Model)
The Concept Teaching Suitcase ( a suitcase containing 150 daily objects to teach basic concepts)
Sue Buckley prof. Em. in educational and developmental psychology, Faculty of Psychology, University of Portsmouth, UK; founder and director of the Sarah Duffen Centre
Educational Psychological Services at Harstad (
From left to right: Jo Lebeer, Sue Buckley, Andreas Hansen, Gunvor Sonnesyn & Maria Roth
Educational Psychological Services at Voss (
Jo Lebeer dr. in medicine and a phD in human development. Certified Feuerstein's Instrumental Enrichment trainer. Coordinator project of Learning Enhancment and Inclusion at Universitaire Instelling Antwerpen
senior lecturer in Social Work at the
Sønnesyn, primary school teacher, coordinator at
Institutt for Anvendt Pedagogikk (
Stefan Szamoskozi vice-dean of the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences and director of the Centre for Distance Learning at the Babes Bolyai University in Cluj (Romania)
Jarl Formo, psychologist, Sørlandet Kompetansesenter, Kristiansand, Norway
to right: Jo Lebeer, Morten Hem, Andreas Hansen,
Institute for Applied Pedagogy
Universiteit Antwerpen UA
Enhancement & Inclusion
Sarah Duffen Centre of Developmental Disabilities
of Babes Bolyai