Essay: Special Education, Also Referred to as Inclusion

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Special education, also referred to as inclusion field focuses its attention on children with special educational needs and disabilities. This field has been on a gradual and progressive change ever since its inception. The events orchestrating the evolution of special education serve as indispensable backdrop in comprehending the ever-changing nature of this field. In addition, knowledge of this history is not only critical in understanding the advances made so far, but also provides a blueprint for further progress of the inclusion field. This study focuses on establishing special education as an evolving and changing discipline and bases its arguments on the philosophies propagated, legislations and policies, historical perspectives, and human issues that continually influence the treatment of people with the special educational needs.

Tracing the history of special education, there was a period when exclusion of children with special educational rule was a rule of thumb. For instance, in 1893 the Massachusetts Supreme Court upheld a decision of expelling a student due to academic incompetence (Smith, 2004). Approximately 30 years later, the Wisconsin Supreme Court denied another student access to education because "he produced a depressing a nauseating sound upon teachers and school children" (Smith, 2004). This forms an example of the shocking treatment of children with special needs, where the legal system as well as the society advocated for their marginalization.

Special education has progressively taken center stage of debates regarding the development of educational policies and practice around the globe. Many countries across the world have reconsidered their take on education of children with special needs and disabilities. Consequently, this education has been established as a serious policy objective in most of these countries. The policy trends and legislative alignments in the last 30 years have heralded an era of evident shift: acceptance of the idea of segregated education for children with special needs and disabilities exists. For instance, the government of United Sates of America introduced an Education for All Handicapped Children Act in the year 1975. Later on, this act was amended to Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) in 1990 and updated again in 1997 to promote inclusion approaches. Inclusive education is now perceived as critical to human rights, equal opportunities, and a key policy aim of liberal democracies. The underpinning argument is that all children have the right to be educated together regardless of the special educational needs they might possess (Wilson, 2003).

The history of special education can be conceptualized best by highlighting the various stages and trends it has experienced. In as much as these conceptualizations concentrate on the dynamics entailing instructional interventions for a student with special educational needs, there are those that concentrated on the place of intervention. The idea of placement depicts the controversy in which the inclusion field has found itself for many years. Philosophical ideologies have been advanced throughout history; they have significantly influenced the treatment of people with such special requirements. Samuel G. Howe, who was a philosopher in the nineteenth century, asserted that instructional setting had qualities, which can effectively serve as an intervention (Wilson, 2003). This assertion gave room for the debate about institutionalization or deinstitutionalization. Professionals were once again thrown into confusion as to whether placing students in a special institution could guarantee effective attendance to their needs. However, this idea did not augur well with the human rights watchdogs who perceived the move to be a causal agent of stigma to these people. In addition, the move was likened to racial segregation where the whites and the blacks attended different classroom. As such, it is worth noting that the philosophies of people have affected the manner the in which special education has been conducted over the years.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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