The Problems of Inclusion: New and Old Perspectives
Inclusion for the Emotional Disabled
Emotional disabilities core characteristic is poor social skills. Either by nature or nurture, the students that are diagnosed with emotional disabilities have a very hard time getting along with other students, teachers, and parents. The student will have a very difficult time maintaining or developing relationships with peers and adults. A teacher or a parent of a child with and emotional disability needs to find the cause of the lack of social skills and take baby steps to teach and reteach the student the skills that are mandatory for them to be successful in both the academic and public environment. Many emotionally disabled students do not graduate and a large percentage of them are incarcerated or placed in treatment centers before they are twenty one.
The way to best help these students is to get to know them. Some will not react to your initial tries, but through persistence and the building of trust, most will come around. Listen to what the student likes and dislikes. Ask questions and let them talk and talk about something they want to talk about. Starting the dialogue is up to the adult, but continuing the dialogue should always be in the hands of the student. Model proper social skills for them. In some cases, the family environment may have not taught or is aware of a certain social skill or another. Explain to the student that his or her behavior may be acceptable at home, but the same behavior is not acceptable at school. Show them the proper behavior and give them praise when you see that behavior copied.
Though inclusion ideas started in the 1970s, the decade of the eighties introduced education to a standard of mainstreaming in response to the Regular Education Initiative (REI). The REI supported the ideal of putting special needs students into mainstream classrooms with accommodations. This, according to Sachs (1990) contributed to self-efficacy in mainstream educators and the specialized education students that they taught. This resulted in negative interaction between both stakeholders and the recommendation of teacher preparation programs with an emphasis on inclusion was included.
In the decade of the 1990s, the inclusion debate was addressed according to Katsiyannis, Conderman, and Franks (1995). The authors discussed the intense debate regarding inclusion and mainstream practices and suggest implications for practice and further research. They found differences in state policy but found promises of a commitment of in-service training for present teachers and a promise to include inclusion classes for future teachers. It is stated that the problem of inclusion is being addressed, but there are no definite answers in which a conclusion can be attained.
Harvey, Yssel, Bauserman, and Merbler (2010) agree with the past recommendations of more research and in their study they reported that the need for preservice teachers courses and training in inclusion The study identifed issued with current training practices, collaboration efforts, and program coordination in the concept of inclusion and set the stage for more research on proven methods of success.
The Purpose of Inclusion
Reindal (2010) investigated the capability approach invented by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, and what it can contribute to a different theoretical framework toward special education. The basic question asked by the study was, ‘what is the purpose of inclusion?’. After a literature review, Reindal states that the rationales for inclusion can be divide into three broad categories; ontological, epistemological, and the realm of ethical and socio-political.
The ontological argument, an argument that states if something exists or is believed to exist it can be grouped into a hierarchy, for special education has many tiers. Classification of special education students differ from state to state and from district to district. A geographical group would have to have the same definition and classification for each disability and degrees within the spectrum for that disability. Within this classification a student would be placed in the hierarchy according to physical, emotional, and cognitive capabilities.
Once the student has been ontologically placed, the question is asked, what is the purpose of inclusion for this student? Is it to follow a perceived idea that all students benefit from inclusion or does it fit a framework of thought that this level of the hierarchy is included for specific reasons determined by the peers within that group? This could be done, but without epistemological, ethical, and socio-political considerations a core educational value could be neglected.
With just the ontological approach the identity of the student could overshadow the specific needs of the individual. The student is classified, but even within a narrow classification, the idea of the individual is lost. Individualized education for the special education student has now become a grouped education with specific modifications and accommodations that are assigned for that group that may or may not benefit the individual child.
Reindal (2010) quotes Terzi (2005) by stating that the capability approach goes beyond the problem of difference. Most theories of disability state that that difference is a specific variable that can change the disability. If the difference is higher or lower at a specific occasion, then the modification or accommodation may not fit as an encompassing tool to educate that specific child. As new experiences are added to the child’s life, the ability to meet those experiences are only measured by the success the student has to his or her non-disabled peers. The ontological approach alone could not be a deciding factor without negative and non-inclusive outcomes.
Reindal, S. (2010). What is the purpose? Reflections on inclusion and special education from a capability perspective. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 25(1), 1-12. doi:10.1080/08856250903450806
Terzi, L. (2005). A capability perspective on impairment, disability and special needs.Towards social justice in education. Theory and Research in Education 3, no. 2: 197–223.