At a glance, whether or not to include children with learning disabilities in the normal classroom may seem like a simple question with an uncomplicated solution. One of the reasons that I have chosen to write on this topic is because my friend is a teacher and I see from her experiences that inclusion is a difficult and controversial issue.
Education is certainly more than reading, writing, and arithmetic. It is also learning about diversity and how to deal with real life situations. Having a variety of personalities and abilities within the same classroom is an important part of the learning process. However, do special education children belong in the mainstream of school and community life? Can a normal classroom setting provide children of all levels with the tools and the assistance they need to be successful? These are questions that many educators have attempted to answer, but there is no simple solution.
Which children are considered to be special education students? Many people believe that this group includes students whos' abilities are below those of their average peers. Actually, this term includes children who are exceptional children (gifted), disabled, handicapped, and at risk. In this paper, I am going to focus on the students who have learning, mental, and emotional disabilities.
In 1990, Robert Barth, a Harvard professor, spoke of the value of diversity: I would prefer my children to be in a school in which differences are looked for, attended to, and celebrated as good news, as opportunities for learning. The question with which so many school people are preoccupied is, "What are the limits of diversity beyond which behavior is unacceptable?"... But the question I would like to see asked more often is, "How can we make conscious, deliberate use of differences in social class, gender, age, ability, race, and interest as resources for learning?"... Differences hold great opportunities for...