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Academic Benefits of Inclusion
Academic Benefits of the Inclusion Classroom Style for Students with Learning Disabilities
Having the academic benefits of inclusion can help many people who need to be placed in an inclusion classroom. However, the benefits of inclusion for learning disabled students are well debated. Many parents feel that inclusion may be the best fit for their child, as it may assist the student in staying within the academic range of their peers. Inclusion also benefits the child to receive study skills as well as job skills for the real world. These students can participate in a class that they find interesting or really like. Inclusion can also help the student be more successful. Inclusion can also help the student asses' subjects that may interest them. Students are able to participate in class that they may not have exposed to otherwise.
Academic Benefits of Inclusion
Schools began the inclusion model in the early 1960s. During this time many students were not receiving the services they needed to be academically successful in the classroom. Some children with special needs had such undesirable behavior that they were placed in mental institutions because schools were unable to provide the services they needed. Many of these students were living below the poverty line. Severely disabled children in these institutions often hurt themselves as these institutions were not properly supervised. Disabled students who did not present with undesirable classroom behaviors were often placed in self-contained classes where all students in the class were disabled. The self -contained model did not take into account the various knowledge and the abilities the various students possessed. Often all disabled students in a school were placed in one classroom away from the general education classes taking place in the rest of the school.
The self -contained model began in the early 1960s. President John F. Kennedy was very supportive of special education reform, as his sister suffered from mental retardation. He felt a proper education was her entitlement to receive an education regardless of her disability. By the year 1966, over 127,000 school -age children were in institutions, an increase of over 40,000 since 1958. By the 1960s, the advent of learning disabilities as a recognized and popular category of disability, and the direct linking or conflation of disability with broader social conditions of poverty cultural deprivation and minority status was established (Osgood,2005). Learning disabilities would soon become a wide description for children whose learning style did not match that their same-aged and grade peers, and they would find it easier to be part of a regular classroom, which could accommodate their needs.
Inclusion of students with disabilities in the regular classroom has many benefits. It is critical that parents are well-informed about inclusion options for their child, as it is a viable option for many students to improve academic performance and ascertain life skills such as getting help on writing a resume, how to make change to take local transportation, and how to make a meal using simple indgriendents and simple instructions.
Students with disabilities benefit from the peer tutoring that can take place in the general education classroom (Goetz, Hunt, 1997). Students with disabilities are not left to fend for themselves in the classroom as they once were before the birth of the inclusion model. The inclusion model provides for instructional assistants in classrooms where students with disabilities are placed. These assistants not only help students complete the assigned educational activities, they provide support to the classroom teacher in terms of helping to develop lessons, modify assignments and provide instructional support to all students in the classroom. Disabled students in the regular education classroom not only receive support from the instructional assistants, they receive social and educational support from their classmates who do not have disabilities. This support comes in the form of study groups, cooperative learning experiences and participation in classroom discussions. The inclusion model provides students with disabilities an opportunity to build larger friendship circles than they would if they were being educated in a strictly self -contained environment. The inclusion model recognizes that a child's education is not simply about academics, but is about socialization as well. Having the instructional assistants in the classroom they will make the class run smoother and make the teacher feel at ease that there is the extra help if needed. Also having the instructional assistant they can accommodate the assignments for the student's right there in the classroom. The students and the teachers could benefit from having an instructional assistant because if the teacher is busy helping a student and another student has a question the instructional assistant can step in and answer the question. Also the teacher can know that there is that extra support for students knowing that there is an instructional assistant not just helping the kids who need it but the rest of the class.
The inclusion model is a wonderful option for a wide of disabled students; however, there are certain elements that must be present for the model to be effective. Educational practices must be child-centered. This means that teachers must discover where each of their students are academically, socially, and culturally to determine how to best facilitate learning. (Osgood, 2005). Indeed, child-centered teachers view their role more as being facilitators of learning rather than simply transmitters of knowledge (Osgood 2005). Therefore skills in curriculum- based assessment, team teaching, mastery learning, assessing learning styles (and modifying instruction to adapt to student's learning styles), other individualized and adaptive learning approaches, cooperative learning strategies, facilitating peer tutoring and “peer buddies”, or social skills are important for teachers to develop and use in inclusive classrooms (Osgood,2005). The concept of inclusion is a meaningful goal to be pursued in our schools. Students with disabilities should be served whenever possible in general education classrooms of their neighborhood schools so that they have the ability to be a part of their community. Allowing disabled students in their own community has educational benefits including a greater self - concept and a greater understanding of the diverse nature of all people. This knowledge not only benefits the disabled students, but the non-disabled students in the classroom as well. Learning disabled students are expected to be experts on their disabilities and be able to speak on a panel and tell people about it and mentor other students in the community who also have a learning disability.
Inclusion offers the opportunity for students with disabilities to be challenged within the academic setting. All students benefit from a challenging curriculum as it is both motivating and rewarding, as well as it sparks intellectual curiosity. Students without disabilities are also challenged to accept and meet the needs of their disabled peers. These challenges are not only beneficial in terms of the educational setting there are life skills as well. (Citation).
The academic benefits of the inclusion model are vast. All students regardless of ability can benefit from this educational model. One of the biggest challenges to proper facilitation of this model comes in teacher training. Many teachers see inclusion in a less than positive light as inclusion is often seen as creating more work for those who already feel overworked. It is true that the inclusion model does initially require the teacher to demonstrate increased patience and decreased time away from work. Teachers must undergo additional training in order to teach in the inclusion classroom. However, many teachers find the training they receive as well as teaching in the inclusion classroom to be extremely rewarding. It is not only important that the inclusion teacher be empathetic to their students, it is essential that they receive adequate support within and outside the classroom. One of the best ways to support inclusion teachers is to encourage team planning, team grading, and to provide teachers with competent and willing instructional assistants and support so that they can be successful in teaching the variety of students in their classroom. (Citation )