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e-book A Sociology of Special Education (RLE Edu M) (Routledge Library Editions: Education)

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Learn more. She goes on to ask a series of questions: How do teachers respond to differences among their pupils? What knowledge do teachers need in order to respond more effectively to diversity in their classrooms? What are the roles of teacher education and ongoing professional development?

Routledge Library Editions: Special Educational Needs

How can teachers be better prepared to work in mixed groupings of pupils? In seeking answers to these questions, Lani Florian concludes that we should look at educational practices and undertake a thorough examination of how teachers work in their classrooms. A policy of inclusion is generally understood around the world as part of a human rights agenda that demands access to, and equity in, education.

However, there are many interpretations about what constitutes educational rights, as well as how these should be assessed, evaluated and so on. Is there a difference between a right to education access and rights in education equity? Does the guarantee of a school place mean that the right to education has been achieved if the form of provision for a student who has been identified as having special educational needs is different from what others of a similar age receive?

Do different forms of provision guarantee equity?

Instructions for students

Is special education part of the problem or part of the solution in fulfilling rights and answering questions of equity in education? A cursory look at the early issues of the journal reveals excitement and hope about the educational possibilities that would now be available to every child. Sociological critiques of special education such as Tomlinson, showed the injustices that can occur in systems with separate forms of provision for learners who deviate from what is considered to be the norm.

Historians and other scholars began to write about the paradox of special education being something that fulfilled both humanitarian and controlling aims of society for example, Cole, ; Lazerson, A frustration with the paradoxical nature of special needs education led many to embrace the idea of inclusive education as an alternative. Inclusive education is based on the principle that local schools should provide for all children, regardless of any perceived difference, disability or other social, emotional, cultural or linguistic difference.

But if special education was not the answer, how were schools to provide for everyone? If inclusive education was to be a process of responding to individual differences within the structures and processes that are available to all learners rather than something separate from them, what would be the role of specialist teachers, and what should be the nature of their expertise? Then, as now, there were no easy answers to these and other questions that have fuelled debates about special versus inclusive education.

This is followed by some thoughts about how colleagues can work more productively in support of learners when they experience difficulty, coming to the conclusion that it is what teachers do, rather than what they are called, that gives meaning to the concept of inclusive education. A final section considers the implications of this argument for those who train teachers. As many commentators have pointed out, special needs education is widely seen as one of the mechanisms by which students who experience difficulties in learning are both included in and excluded from the forms of schooling that are otherwise available to children of similar ages.

Sociology of Education: In School Processes

For some, the ends have justified the means — access to different forms of provision where individual needs might be met is seen as preferable to education in a mainstream environment for those who have been judged as failing in that environment, or to no education at all. Others have rejected this view and have sought new means in the form of inclusive education as a replacement for special needs education and its associated problems of marginalisation and exclusion.

Colleagues such as Tony Booth have written forcefully about the need to reject special education and replace it with explorations of the processes of exclusion and inclusion for all. However, while research on inclusive education has indeed embarked on such an exploration, it has not brought about a rejection of special needs education. Indeed, this is the definition of special needs education and additional support in many countries. As a result, it is proving particularly difficult to articulate a process of inclusion as practice. Instead, as Norwich has recently explained, teachers and other school staff face dilemmas about how to respond when learners experience difficulty.

Books by Len Barton (Author of Schools, Teachers and Teaching (RLE Edu N))

How can they provide for all learners without perpetuating the stigmatising effects of marking out some students as different? Are there differences that can and should be ignored? Which differences matter, and how will teachers know? These questions highlight the tensions between the structure of schooling — based as it is on ideas about the greatest good for the greatest number and the assumption that the population is normally distributed — and the issues of equity raised by this structure.


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Is it possible to reconcile these tensions? Historically, educationally important individual differences between learners were thought to be associated with specific types of learning difficulties or impairments. Observations of the loss of mental functioning in people who had acquired brain injuries led to the development of theories about how the brain works and, on this basis, educational interventions were recommended to remediate or compensate for hypothesised underlying impairments.

In response, many researchers began to focus more specifically on learning itself, leading to the development of new strategies intended to support students in accessing the curriculum, rather than aiming to remediate underlying cognitive deficits. The most important thing is that objectives and content are made accessible to the learner.

However, programmes of research conducted within disability classification systems that examine interventions by type of impairment have obscured these important findings.

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Thus, rather than concentrating on the differences between learners, it might be more helpful to think in terms of learning outcomes. Indeed, many teachers and specialists do just that in practice. Kershner has developed a typology of learning aims to enhance achievement, active learning and participation and for responding to individual differences. Her model clarifies the link between the teacher's role and learning in making sense of individual differences, without relying on disability categories.

The key point is that, while there are differences between learners, the salient educational differences are found in learners' responses to tasks and activities, rather than in the medical diagnostic criteria that have been used to categorise them in order to determine their eligibility for additional support. It is often argued that a lack of knowledge on the part of classroom teachers, attributed to a lack of training, is one of the main barriers to inclusion see, for example, Forlin, However, attempts to identify the actual nature of the required knowledge are often meagre.

My own attempt in Promoting Inclusive Practice Florian, suggested that teachers need knowledge about learning difficulties and that they need to be skilled in using specific instructional methods, but what does this mean?

Evidence on teaching practice and pedagogy in special and mainstream education suggests that the teaching strategies used in mainstream education can be adapted to assist students who have been identified as having special educational needs. Posted on August 16, by Sharon Teng.

This select bibliography of primary accounts of Singapore is intended to shed light on the ways of perceiving, understanding and remembering of a Singapore long gone.


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Posted on January 31, by Mervin Teo. Posted on January 24, by Mervin Teo. Introduction This resource guide was produced in accompaniment with the programme Four Conversations: Delivering Literacy to Millions of Children. The speaker for the topic is John Wood, founder of Room to Read. This guide provides supplementary resources for those who are keen to further explore this topic. For both formats the functionality available will depend on how you access the ebook via Bookshelf Online in your browser or via the Bookshelf app on your PC or mobile device.

An eBook version of this title already exists in your shopping cart. If you would like to replace it with a different purchasing option please remove the current eBook option from your cart. Paperback : Hardback : Add to Wish List. Description Contents Series Subjects. Description At the time of original publication, special education in Britain was permeated by an ideology of benevolent humanitarianism and this is ostensibly the moral framework within which the professionals — teachers, educational psychologists, medical officers — operate.

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