Jacqueline Specht, Director
On February 13, a group of people braved the snowstorm in London Ontario to view the screening of Dan Habib’s latest film “Intelligent Lives.” Intelligent Lives is about 3 young adults with intellectual disabilities: Micah, Naieer, and Naomie. They challenge the perception of what people with intellectual disabilities can accomplish in high school, college, and the workforce.
As the film discusses, intelligence tests were originally developed to identify students who would need extra help at school but they quickly became about sorting and labelling people as “feebleminded”. People were told that their children would never amount to anything and suggested they be put in institutions. The three people followed in the film show us that IQ is a number on a test that should not be used to determine one’s life.
Micah who is living on his own, taking care of his own finances, going to college, and working as a teaching assistant was given an IQ score of 40. He said he googled it and people with IQs of 40 cannot move out of their parents’ house or get a job – he follow it with a big grin. The sarcasm was not lost on the audience at our screening.
Following the film, we had good discussion about inclusive education and what that means for teachers, students, and families. We acknowledged that inclusive education requires us to think differently about learning. It is hard work, but teaching is hard work. We must challenge the myth that if we just removed certain children from our schools, it would be easier. We have been there and we cannot go back. Yes, teachers need to be supported; they need to believe that all students belong in their class and that they have the skillset to teach all students. If they do not feel confident, we must support them to get there. We need to rely on peers to support each other and learn how to be good citizens who respect diversity in all of its forms. We must create supportive environments where diversity is celebrated rather than shunned. We have so many outstanding examples of inclusive schools across Canada. Successful inclusive education is possible and we must continue on the journey of welcoming all so that stories such as those of Micha, Naieer, and Naomie become ordinary rather than extraordinary.
The film has many angles other than education that can be discussed in light of diversity. For information on how to host your own screening visit the website: https://intelligentlives.org/host-screening. It is a great opportunity to meet and think about how we view intelligence in society and the outcomes we can achieve when we believe that everyone is valued and everyone belongs.