How Are We Different?

Transforming Outlooks: Inclusion as a Mindset

Reconsidering Outlooks

Amongst others, SPSC faculty member Alan Chin (retired) was a prominent figure in promoting inclusive mindsets. He prompted students to critically engage the idea of inclusion, and encouraged them to consider the diverse experiences people have beyond themselves.

By pointing out the these settings which tend to put participants into dichotomized positions of “winner” and “loser” or “good” and “bad,” Alan taught SPSC students (who were typically the athletic ones) to become more cognizant of those who were not in the same position.

A Spin on Musical Chairs

With inclusivity in mind, Alan put innovative spins on games and gym activities. Musical Chairs returns as an example: there would be 25 chairs for a class of 30 people, but the five people who do not get the chair are not eliminated. Instead, they would go up to or sit on the lap of somebody who has a chair, introduce themselves, and the game goes on. By the time only the last five chairs remain, everybody wants to introduce themselves to somebody else – who the winner is becomes irrelevant.

With this variation, the entire psychology of the game is changed from “winners and losers” to “inclusion.”

To get students thinking about inclusivity, Alan often used Musical Chairs as an example. Traditionally played, the game favours those who are more athletic (the faster ones always get the chair), while those who are less so would often be eliminated or excluded from the get-go. Another example would be a common method in making teams for a sports game: the best players picked those who they wanted based on athletic merit, and those who were less athletic would always be left until the end.

“You [the SPSC students] were very athletic…but what about the people who aren’t athletic or good runners or whatever? All the games tend to be for [athletically capable] people like you and me.”

Alan, on how games always favour those who are athletically capable

While the idea of competition in games is still valid, the point is to encourage inclusive mindsets wherever possible. Alan showed students that there are many alternatives for traditionally exclusionary games with a little imagination and creativity.

Inclusion as a Constant Mindset

The SPSC department, as a whole, also found other ways to integrate inclusion into the curriculum and the College at large. They constructed mini-Olympic games designed around wheelchair games and relays; they taught coaches and teachers how to instruct wheelchair sports and people with special needs; they also promoted the need for accessibility, such as automatic door openers, in the earlier decades of the College (when awareness for such things were not as prominent).