What is presuming competence? Essentially, it means that if you’re not sure about a particular kid, for whatever reason, assume that the student can do more!
Douglas Biklen explained: “Assume that a child has intellectual ability, provide opportunities to be exposed to learning, assume the child wants to learn and assert him or herself in the world.” Check out his article on the subject here.
If you haven’t watched this video of Dr. Cheryl Jorgensen talking about presuming competence you should! It was well worth the 30 minutes! These are my favorite lines:
“Presuming competence of every student is the least dangerous assumption that I can make.”
“I don’t think it is just a matter of having the right supports, I think that the core belief of presuming competence is the foundation. It’s the foundation on which other things are certainly built.”
This is the statement that resonated most with me. At school and at conferences, I often hear about providing the right supports to students. As an AT Specialist, I’m often lobbying to get students the correct supports including AAC devices. But, if educators, administrators, therapists, classroom aides, parents, etc. don’t presume competence these supports are likely not going to be used to their fullest capacity. We must have a foundation of presuming competence in order utilize those supports in the best way!