Date: 21-07-2021

Peer Learning Activities 2020 - A Conversation with Maksim Struzhkin

For professionals working to create inclusive environments in schools and preschools, many questions arise. How do you ensure your school fits any requirements? How do you provide adequate infrastructure? How are you sure to provide a rich experience if there are no specialists for children with special needs?

The ISSA Peer Learning Activity (PLA)*, “Turn it on! You can’t force it.” Creating inclusive schools and pre-schools, shared insights into creating inclusive schools and preschools.

Read the interview with Maksim Struzhkin of the Pavlov Institute of Physiology, Russian Academy of Sciences, host of the PLA. He shares an overview of the PLA, what was meaningful about the PLA experience for his organization and what he would tell others about hosting PLAs.


Can you share a brief overview of the PLA you hosted online?

The PLA which we hosted online was titled: "Turn it on! You can't force it." Creating inclusive schools and preschools, hosted by our organization. We held four sessions in February 2021, with a total of 226 participants. Our sessions were attended by participants from eight countries (Denmark, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Latvia, Ukraine, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia) and 11 regions of Russia. The target audience consisted of school teachers, kindergarten teachers, heads of state educational institutions of preschool and school-age, university students and teachers, researchers, medical professionals (psychologists, speech therapists, speech pathologists), NGO employees, and, of course, ISSA members from various countries. This series of webinars was attended by those specialists and interested people who set tasks in their work to make the processes of learning and including children in society more comfortable and productive.


What was the most meaningful part of hosting a PLA for you and your organization?

The most significant part of the PLA for me, and for my organization, is that we were able to contribute to the development of inclusion in Russia and present a small "piece" of real information about inclusion in 5 regions of Russia, which all participants of our events were able to get acquainted with.

During the PLA, we acquired new partners, friends, and met like-minded people who are interested in cooperation and friendship with us and are happy to share their knowledge in the field of inclusion, as well as actively participate in their acquisition and use of the acquired experience in their practice.


Tell us were the main outcomes of your PLA, despite or due to being organized online?

We are very pleased that the work that we have done between October 15, 2020, and the end of the last event (February 26, 2021) will bear fruit in the near future and will allow us to take another step in building an inclusive society in our country and in other countries participating in the PLA project.

Another result was a request for the continuation of activities and consideration of current problems arising on the topic of the project.

At the end of the sessions, along with congratulations and thanks, we received confirmation that the materials will be used in the work of teachers in preschools and school institutions, and in institutes of advanced training and higher educational institutions, lectures will be prepared for students – future teachers and speech therapists.


What would you like to let other ISSA Members know about hosting or participating in an online PLA?

We are extremely positive about the accumulated experience of our work in PLA and the opportunity to acquire new knowledge and skills. Thanks to this project, we were able to multiply the experience and knowledge, enrich them with specialists and professionals working to create an inclusive space for our children. We also hope you all take note of the many wonderful projects and are happy to be a part of the great ISSA team! 


Can you share an example of how the topic of your PLA is important in your work?

Inclusion is an integral part of our work within the framework of our scientific and educational center "Biological and Social foundations of Inclusion" of the Pavlov Institute of Physiology, RAS and the direction of the National Research Center "Pavlovsky Center" Integrative Physiology-medicine, high-tech healthcare, and stress resistance technologies". After all, inclusive education for the domestic education system is a certain innovation, so it requires competent management at all stages of its modeling and implementation. The effectiveness of inclusive education involves the creation of a set of conditions, among which the main ones are: the readiness of specialists to implement an inclusive pedagogical process; a humanistic system of education, including the formation of a moral and psychological climate in the team; the organization of correctional assistance and psychological and pedagogical support for the development and socialization of children. Therefore, the topic of our PLA is very important for the entire center.


Where can we find more information about this topic?

More information on this topic, as well as other useful information, can be found on the resources for the ISSA Knowledge Hub, as well as on the website of the Pavlov Institute of Physiology, RAS in the section of the Scientific and Educational Center "Biological and Social Foundations of Inclusion", and you can also view all current, future and past events in the section "Scientific Events".


*Every year ISSA Members benefit from Peer Learning Activities (PLAs), which aim to build Members’ capacity, deepen their knowledge and act as enabling spaces for Members to co-create new knowledge. You can learn more about Peer Learning Activities offered in the ISSA Network here.

Listen to the interview clip.