‘Inclusion is a right not a privilege for a select few’ oberti v. board of education, (2010). It is the right of all children in America, whether disable or not to have full access to resources and social interaction in inclusive schools, this has been an important topic of discussion for many years. Children who required Special Education were treated poorly and often desegregated from society in the 70s. The 90s reviewed little change, as children then were placed in special schools for their learning disability. The concerns of parents and educators over the exclusion of children with disabilities, birth the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). To-date the Public Educational Policy states that every child born with a disability from birth to age twenty-one (21), is entitled to a free and appropriate public education, IDEA (2005, PL 108-446.). In accordance with this Act, Schools in America had to incorporate these children and provide them with the best learning environment possible whether they had a physical or mental disability and regardless of their strengths and weaknesses. Special Educational (SE) was used to mask students who struggled with mental retardation, sensory, motor skills, visual and auditory disorders. Inclusive Education (IND) means that all students, despite their challenges must be placed in age-appropriate classes within their community and be given quality teaching, support, and intervention that facilitate them in achieving success and have a productive life in society (Bui, Quirk, Almazan, & Valenti, 2010; Alquraini & Gut, 2012). Today the goal of all schools is to provide an environment that is least restrictive to facilitate disabled children, records have shown an increase of disabled children in inclusive schools, to-date 6.5 million across America, with 65% being physical disabled, Children and Youth with Disabilities Report (2018). This paper will discuss, the ways inclusive education aid special needs children that are physically disabled living in America through implementing inclusive teaching strategies, relationship building, and curriculum adjustment.
Through inclusive teaching strategies, many special needs students have gained a significant advantage in learning and being integrated into schools, despite being physically disabled. The term inclusive teaching strategy refers to any number of teaching approaches that deals with and acknowledges the needs of students of different background, abilities, and learning modalities, Ambrose, Bridges, DiPietro & Lovett (2010, p. 169-170). For example, Co-operative learning is an inclusive teaching approach that benefits students with a disability and peer. Its objective is to organize and structure how small groups are used to enhance learning and interdependence. Physically disabled Students are more engaged in classroom activities where cooperative learning structures are in place, versus a traditional classroom intervention. Specifically, in inclusive classes that use cooperative learning, students articulate their thoughts more freely, receive confirming and constructive feedback, engage in questioning techniques, receive additional practice on skills, and have increased opportunities to respond. This has proven to be advantageous to students as well as teachers; teachers are better able to assess students and their needs by actively monitoring students’ learning. When structures are in place for this level of dialogue to occur, it accelerates the comprehension process of the children, Emerson (2013). Evidentially, when teachers are committed to Co-operative learning, the students benefit the most as they realize that co-operative learning is fun, so they enjoy it and are motivated because they get to interact, engage, and participate in active learning and are taught critical thinking, and retain lesson learned longer, as well as develop strong relationship with their peers and teachers.
Relationship building between students and staff is a very important aspect of effective inclusive education. The importance of building a positive relationship applies to all students and teachers and can be seen as difficult to achieve in an inclusive education system. It is vital, however, for a teacher to understand the needs of their student, their strengths and weaknesses. This can be explained in the theory of Social capital, which is the levels of mutual respect, trust, and exchange that people acknowledge in their communications among each other, and their need to belong, (Putnam, 2000). As argued by Adler and Kwon, Social capital does not only improve mental safety and wellbeing but also allows groups of people to collaborate together, towards shared goals. It enriches their sources of an organization in several ways by increasing ideas, opportunities, advice, help, goodwill, contacts, the flow of information and emotional support (Adler & Kwon, 2002). With that said, schools that are less hierarchical and moralistic are more likely to include all members of the school community in respectful communications and be extension opens the door for staff, teachers and students to build a relationship.
Onyx and Bullen (2000) have identified the factor for assessing social capital in schools: Levels of involvement in the community, pro-activity in social background, sense of personal and mutual efficacy, feelings of trust and safety, the endurance of diversity and feeling part of a group. Students that are physically disabled have a hard time trying to learn and most time is withdrawn because they are physically challenged in their own way. Students’ physical disabilities or challenges may be either temporary or permanent and eventually, the student’s challenges may create disruption in the classroom. For example, two students in a 9 a.m. class who were late usually, because both of these students had undergone knee operations and had to take special needs transportation to and from class, and climb three flights of stairs on crutches. They were assisted by members of staff and their classmates by the end of the semester, they were healed and coming to class on time without the special need’s transportation. Creating a positive relationship with the teacher and staff in helping students that are physically disabled is very crucial. Once that relationship is built, students will feel belonging and normal in the classroom.
Curriculum adjustments have been an integral reason for the expansion of inclusive education across the American educational landscape. Adjustments can be made in order to fit learning in such a way that it benefits both types of students without hindering either of them in learning. Vaughn 1994 study conducted that in order for inclusive education to succeed changes in the classroom’s practices such as modifying the curriculum to enhance the relevancy for each student and also the instructional techniques had to be made. Curriculum adaptations alter the content of what is taught using variations of simple and supplementary practices while instructional changes come in the form of how teachers tailor the teaching practices to the wide variation of children in the classroom. One such effort is McCleskey 2002 study into the inclusive school program [ISP] in America where six elementary schools and a large state university in three local school districts have found that, despite changes to the curriculum, the ISP had not hindered the overall rate of covering the curriculum content for each school it was implemented into. More teachers were more opened in collaborating which had led to better success and efficiency rates at teaching these diverse classrooms. Another such instance is the Individual Educational Plan [IEP] that required curriculum change and testing procedures. This program was focused on troubleshooting basic skills deficits in classrooms such as social, self-esteem and organizational skills for persons learning with blindness or hearing deficiency (Janney, 2006). Teachers who have implemented such programs into their teaching system have largely reported satisfactory results with all students that are involved.
In concluding, Inclusive education involves all students with various learning challenges such as physical disability being placed in one classroom with other children that have no disability to facilitate everyone’s learning ability. It has been established that the success of inclusive education is dependent on relationship building, implementation of various teaching strategies and the adjusting of the curriculum to involve every child’s learning ability. The success of inclusive education in schools involve diverse content and creative material to include all children by fostering their minds for growth, altering the curriculum to suit each child and modifying tasks while also building a solid relationship with each child. It is imperative that there is a solid relationship built between the child and the teacher especially children with special needs as this will help the teacher to be able to attend to the specific needs of each child. As a result of understanding each child needs, it will help with the curriculum alteration to facilitate each child within the classroom that will bring about an inclusive environment. All children have the right to learn in one environment which consequently brought about an inclusive approach to education and has helped with the success of education thus far in the United States of America. This is the approach they use in the States to ensure that all children disabled or not will have the same right and opportunity to education with those who are not disabled. Subsequently, this will halt discrimination and the stigma attached to special needs children and their ability to learn.
- Alquraini, T., & Gut, D., (2012). Critical components of successful inclusion of students with severe disabilities: a Literature review. , International Journal of Special Education, 27(1), 42-59.
- Apling, R. and Jones, N., (2005) Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
- Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., & Lovett, M.C. (2010). How learning works: seven research-based principles for smart teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.
- The Condition of Education – Preprimary, Elementary, and Secondary Education – Elementary and Secondary Enrollment – Children and Youth With Disabilities – Indicator May (2019). (2019). Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cgg.asp
- Emerson, L.M., (2013) Cooperative Learning in Inclusive Classrooms: Student who work together, learn together. Williamsburg, VA
- Griffin, F. (2001). Regular primary school teachers’ attitudes towards inclusive education: a review of the literature, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 165.
- Inclusive Curriculum (NESSE, 2012, UNESCO, 2004-2009); Inclusive curriculum has entered recently the doors of the universities, for better responding to the diversity of the students. Worldwide
- Oberti v. board of education. (2010, June 29). Retrieved from http://www.kidstogether.org/right-ed_files/oberti.htm
- UNESCO. (2014) Changing Teaching practices: Using curriculum differentiation to respond to students’ diversity, U.S. UNESCO.