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Inclusion Debate

?Inclusion: Pros and Cons Inclusion is a very controversial idea because it relates to educational and social values, as well as our sense of individual worth. Inclusion is the assignment of students with disabilities to regular classrooms in neighborhood schools for the entire school day. These children participate in all the regular school activities. It involves bringing the support services to the child rather than moving the child to the services, and requires only that the child will benefit from being in the class rather than having to keep up with the other students. Physical accommodations, sufficient personnel, staff development and technical assistance, and technical collaboration are all brought into the classroom to assist the special needs child in a regular classroom. Those who are for inclusion claim that segregated programs are detrimental to students and do not meet the original goals for special education. Recent meta-analyses show a small to moderate beneficial effect of inclusion education on the academic and social outcome of special needs children. Those who support inclusion believe that the child always should begin in the regular environment and only be removed only when appropriate services cannot be provided in the regular classroom. Another study assessing the effectiveness of inclusion was done at John Hopkins University. In a school-wide restructuring program called, Success for All, student achievement was measured and several positive changes were noticed: a reduced fear of human differences accompanied by increases comfort and awareness, growth in social cognition, improvement in self- concept of non-disabled students, development of personal principles and ability to assume an advocacy role toward their peers and friends with disabilities, and warm and caring friendships. However, for inclusion to be successful, adequate supplementary aids and support services must be present. The teacher needs to prepare students to be accepting of the special needs students by being honest about the nature of the child's disability and/or behavior difficulty. Although inclusion seems like a great idea that should be of some form of benefit for all involved, if not handled properly it can become a very stressful situation. As an elementary school student, I remember being in my classroom about mid-semester and the teacher announcing that we would be having and additional student joining us. She went on to explain that this particular boy had had difficulty in his previous school due to behavioral problems but that she was going to try to work with him. She asked that if he ever acted out towards us, that we not retaliate but instead go to her or the principle and tell them. She also asked that we be friendly and not treat him indifferently because of his behavioral problem, but to instead understand that he could not help but be this way. Although the teacher probably felt that by arming us with this knowledge we would be able to handle encounters with this boy better, we were in no way prepared to deal with the disruptive and sometimes abusive nature of this boy. The rest of that school year was very hard for all of us. The boy had no ability to concentrate, sit still or be quiet. The teacher would try to teach the lesson over his outbursts but needless to say, not much was learned for the rest of the year. I believe that inclusion is a good idea when all the proper facilities, services, aids and proper disciplinary strategies are present. However, if the teacher/classroom/school, are not well equipped to handle inclusion, it can become a very stressful hardship for all involved. The regular students will become distracted by the constant disruptions, they can even resort to acting out themselves because they are seeing the inclusion student is not being disciplined. The teacher can become frustrated with the chaos in his/her classroom and feel unable to regain control or not able to effectively teach the class with constant disruptions occurring. In my opinion, the best way to deal with children with behavioral problems or learning disabilities is early intervention. The greatest debate over inclusion versus special education for children with these kind of problems is that their academic performance is below those of their agemates. However, many of these students could have succeeded in school in the first place if they had had effective prevention and early intervention programs. There is strong evidence that a substantial portion of students who are now in the special education system could have been kept out if they had had effective early intervention. Studies of high quality early childhood programs such as the Perry Preschool, the Abecedarian Project, and the Milwaukee Project all showed substantial reductions in special education placements for students with learning disabilities and mild mental retardation. The program, Success for All, which combines effective early childhood programs, curriculum reform, and one-to-one tutoring, has reduced special education placement by more than half. These findings suggest that special-education services could be greatly reduced if prevention and early intervention programs were implemented. Ultimately, the key to the child's success lay in the hands of the educators. It is their duty to provide proper assistance and instruction for these children in order for full inclusion to be successful.

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