January 21, 2013
Shaping Special Education
How to best serve students with disabilities? This has long been the question that has teachers and educators probing for the best possible practices to serve special education students. In comparison to early philosophies and academics, the special education field did not come about until the nineteenth century. Though fairly young, special education has had a fascinating history. With some of the earliest special education recordings dating back to the early 1800’s, the gains made in special education are nothing short of remarkable. The backgrounds of special education along with historical legislative mandates have undoubtedly changed this field and what is to come of its future. The progression of special education in the United States was slow during the nineteenth century. At this time, it was often believed that adults and children with disabilities could not be productive members of society. One distinguished philosopher, Edouard Seguin, challenged this belief by creating a structured learning environment and developing sensory, academic, and physical skills (Friend, 2008). In 1875, a public school in Cleveland, Ohio was the first to establish a special class; others soon followed in cities such as New York, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia (Friend, 2008). As education evolved, educators decided that students needed to be presented with instruction that better met their individual needs. It was during the twentieth century that special education became more prominent in the form of ungraded classes. (Friend, 2008) Moving through the twenty-first century our country had several significant court cases, mandates, and laws that changed the face of special education. “Special education has consistently been the most litigated area in education, possibly due to insufficient knowledge of key components of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act”...