International Education Studies
Vol. 2, No. 4
Should All Students with Special Educational Needs (SEN) Be
Included in Mainstream Education Provision? - A Critical Analysis Huei Lan Wang
Department of Communication, Faculty of Social science
Traditionally, children requiring special educational needs (SEN) are segregated into separate learning environments. While this education practice has been established for years, other educators and analysts have been questioning its efficacy. Most of them suggest that students with SEN should be included into mainstream schools to maximize their learning experiences. Several other benefits as well as issues have been raised in relation to this educational issue. In this paper, the factors related to the education and inclusion of students with SEN, including the curriculum, attitude of the educators, professional development, equality issues as well as learning experiences, will be discussed. The significance and relevant effects of these factors will be the basis of the conclusion of this paper on whether inclusion should be adapted.
Keywords: Special Educational Needs, Inclusion, Segregation
1. Children with Special Needs: A Historical Account
Historically, people with specific learning disabilities have been segregated from mainstream school practices as well as economic and social activities (Atkinson et al. 1997). Similarly, several people with sensory impairments as well as physical disabilities have been excluded from the society (Humphries and Gordon, 1992). At times, segregation of the disabled had led to severe social practices like sterilization and incarceration. Such practices had been observed due to misconceptions of physical and intellectual characteristics (Oliver and Barnes, 1998). The practice of separating the disabled from the rest had originated from the mistaken notion that human bodies must conform to a certain standard or norm. Foucault had discussed this erroneous belief extensively (Rabinow, 1984). 2. Segregation versus Inclusion
The provision of appropriate educational needs for children with special disabilities has long been a common issue in education. Arguments and debates have been raised in line with the right policies on how to educate children with special educational needs (SEN). According to Jenkinson (1997), children with disabilities are traditionally educated in segregated classrooms, specifically designed to cater to the students' certain incapacities. Educators find this segregation system beneficial, as they are able to apply curriculum formulated specifically for special children. Likewise, children with disabilities benefit from this system not only because of the appropriate curriculum, but also the thought of attending classes with classmates having the same disabilities enhances their confidence or self-esteem as well. Furthermore, being segregated assures the security and sufficient support special children need. However, in an article written by Dunn (1968), the segregation of special children involves many issues of concern, which were generalized into four main points of argument including the students' academic achievement, the detrimental effects of labeling associated with placement outside the mainstream, the racial imbalance in special education, and recent advances in individually paced curricula which would make it possible to accommodate students with disabilities in the regular class. Furthermore, several educators have argued that exposing children into ordinary education settings will be the most effective means of equipping children into better self-supportive adults in the future (Jenkinson, 1997). The students are not the only ones affected by the segregation system. Teachers or educators are also isolated through this kind of setting. Being isolated, their teaching competencies become limited as well. Considering the significance of this point,...
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