In today’s classroom environment, mainstreaming is becoming the norm. This refers to the inclusion of students with special needs in the general education classroom as appropriate given their abilities and skills. When general education classes and special education classes are combined, the students in either group are able to learn from one another, honing their abilities to collaborate with individuals of diverse skill sets and learning basic principles of tolerance and acceptance.
However, there are many who contend that students with special needs are deserving of special attention; because their mental or physical capabilities are so different from traditional students, they need the one-on-one attention that only the special education classroom can provide. Mainstreaming them, it is argued, will detract from this personalized attention, and thus, from their overall educational growth and development.
The most accurate response to these arguments can be found in the true principles of mainstreaming. In such a practice, students are not just removed from the special education classroom and placed with general education instructors. To the contrary, students are wholly assessed to determine when, if at all, they are capable of working within the general education classroom. Some students may only be mainstreamed in such subject areas as music and home economics; some may be mainstreamed in mathematics or physical education. By gauging a student’s ability to work in the same environment as their non-disabled peers, mainstreaming ensures that the classroom environment is wholly beneficial to all students, providing those with special needs the one-on-one attention they require in some areas and allowing them the opportunity to integrate with their peers in others.
Inclusion in the Classroom
The acceptance of inclusion within the classroom can have identifiable effects on both the educational options available to disabled children as well as the experience of the regular classroom instructor. The following research paper Inclusion In the Classroom examines two different studies relevant to these issues as they influence the accessibility of inclusive programs for the student and the success of teachers in the inclusionary educational environment.
The research papers concluded that inclusionary placements for children were considered most significant by families at the preschool and first grade levels however more specialized services for their children became more significant by second grade. The research paper also presents implications for practice including the increased need for recognizing how important societal values and legal mandates are to providing the foundation for inclusive educational practices. This is supported by the study’s finding that placement in inclusive educational programs declined for this study sample because the children “failed to make the grade” or demonstrated emotional and behavioral patterns that were perceived out of line with their respective grade level. Even more, the data collected from the interviews revealed that many families failed to receive adequate professional support concerning inclusionary educational options for the children.
The results of these two studies have provided a greater awareness of the fact that inclusive education can only be advanced with adequate participation by everyone involved; participation that includes the family’s complete understanding of the options available for their child and the participation of teaching professionals who wholly advocate the value of inclusive educational programs and are willing to challenge societal values or legal mandates that prohibit their successful application.These objectives, in addition to the potential stressors that inclusion within the classroom may contribute, present major challenges for teachers. However, unless they are more regularly addressed and their positive implications for the educational success of the learning disabled more frequently recognized, the true value of inclusion within the classroom may never be fully realized.