A Place For Everyone
From year to year, new breakthroughs are made in almost every aspect of humankind, including the human psyche. However, no matter how much one learns about individuals and the way their bodies and minds work, the decision of whether or not to put special education adolescents in a normal classroom or to keep them secluded and taught separately and personally is still a heavy debate. Though the problem has been talked about and researched for years, there still isn’t a national consensus, as both inclusion and self-contained exclusion classrooms have their pros and cons. Recently, a new method of teaching called reverse inclusion has been practiced in the schools as well. This third method combines the pros of both inclusion and exclusion, and as further research is done this hopefully will be the policy implemented in all school systems.
Many years ago, parents and students didn’t have much of an option when it came to the decision of inclusion or segregation. It was understood that students with disabilities would be taught separately if they were even taught at all. Many times they would not be able to go to school because of a shortage of money and of qualified teachers. Nevertheless, in 1975, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was passed. (Wilson-Younger.) This act allowed funding for special education classrooms in the schools and qualified teachers (Enforcing The Right). This act was soon followed with the Reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act which assigns how those funds are to be used, and establishes the student and parent’s rights (Turnbull). After these two acts were in order, more disabled students were being added not only into schools, but also into standard classrooms on a regular basis, which Dylinda Wilson-Younger, a professor at Alcorn University, sees as a good thing. This integration of special needs students with other students is known as inclusion.
Inclusion classrooms have both pros and cons to them, and many non special education teachers did not take a liking to this method. Soon after special needs adolescents were being integrated into typical classroom settings, many surveys were conducted to see what the teachers thoughts were on the whole issue. Though many studies were done, the general understanding came to these two things: most teachers believed that special needs students should be removed from the regular classroom and personally taught in their own self-contained classroom setting, and that if a teacher does have a special needs student in his or her class, the teacher needs to have some kind of special education knowledge or experience (Wilson-Younger). The reason for the first point is because the disabled children were thought to have a negative effect on non-disabled children. The same survey showed that a lot of teachers had the “pre-conceived notion” that disabled students were significantly different than their non-disabled classmates, which led toward a more negative attitude in general (Wilson-Younger). This seems to be a very common finding. Many studies, other than just that survey, were done. These studies “show antagonism to inclusion among teachers” (Qtd. in Gavish and Shimoni 52). One anonymous teacher from these studies said "There must be criteria; you cannot just open the school gates and accept everyone. If this happens, you could miss the target and find that instead of inclusion, which leads to betterment, we would find the opposite, and both the included and the mainstream children would suffer” (Qtd. in Gavish and Shimoni 54). This bad attitude towards inclusion is most likely because “teachers are more positive regarding the inclusion of students with physical disabilities or social disorders and are less willing to include students with cognitive or behavioral disorders” (Qtd. in Gavish and Shimoni 53). On that same note, the reason for the second point was that regular teachers just are...
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