At the end of his compulsory secondary education, Rafael Calderón was told that he wasn’t able to learn more. Now he has become the first Spanish person with Down Syndrome to obtain a professional degree in Music. His family’s fight against exclusion is recounted in the documentary “I am just one more. Off beat Notes”, by Ignacio Calderón Almendros.
What can families do to help schools be inclusive? Inclusion at school is the theme of Inclusion Europe’s campaign “Educate”. Here’s how Rafael and his family fought for inclusive education.
“Rafael Calderón is a person like any of you, but he has a way of learning a touch slower,” says Rafael, describing himself in the documentary “I am just one more. Off beat Notes” about his experience of exclusion at school.
The documentary was made by Rafael’s brother, Ignacio Calderón Almendros, who is Assistant Professor at the Department of Theory and History of Education at the University of Malaga. As part of his job, he does research on inclusive education and sociocultural processes of exclusion.
His documentary is based on the book “Education, Disability and Inclusion. A Family Struggle against an Excluding School” that he wrote together with Sabina Habegger-Lardoeyt. The book, published in 2017, recounts the struggle to secure an inclusive education for Rafael.
Throughout the first years of education, Rafael attended a regular school where he was supported and included. However, in 1998 everything changed. The school stopped supporting him and asked the family to move him to another school. Rafael was told that he was unable to learn more and that he had to give up on further education.
At school, Rafael felt excluded and discriminated. He only felt included when playing the trumpet in the music band, where he didn’t feel different or labelled, where he was “just one more in the group”.
“Teachers should have given me a hand, whatever it took, however tiring it was,” Rafael says. His family challenged the school’s decision to stop Rafael’s education. When the school failed him, Rafael repeated the year and eventually passed. Supported by his family and community, he pushed forward with his studies until he obtained his degree in Music.
Watch the documentary in Spanish with English subtitles: