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Inclusionary practices are those which involve students with or without disabilities. Students who are physically or mentally impaired are given more attention, but they are taught in the same environment as that of the normal students. In order to handle such a group of students, teamwork is mandatory. A team of administrators, regular classroom teachers, physical teachers, special teachers, physical and occupational therapists, etc is required (Meieran, -). There are two kinds of inclusion. Regular inclusion- is one where the special students go in the classroom of general students. There they are given additional help and special instruction in the classroom. Full inclusion is one where there is no segregation between general and special students, and they work together (Hub Pages).
Richard Lange, is a gifted expert, and he talks about his experience and about the international gifted programs. He talks about his visit to Taipei, Taiwan, where he saw that these students had to take extensive rigorous placement tests in order to get them admitted in these schools. These schools have large focus on science and laboratory experiments at an early age.
Cultivation of Inclusive Practices in Schools
When inclusive practices are cultivated in schools, the school academics must make sure that the teachers they hire have a focus on disabled students beyond that they have on normal students. The way instructions are given is an important factor, as it can serve as solid foundation for inclusive classroom (Dukes & Dukes)
However, there are a lot of challenges that comes across in inclusive classrooms. The teacher has to be more inclusive and identify challenges by providing practical activities, ideas and approaches (Inclusive Science). One obstacle which everyone comes across is the common attitude of teachers. It has been observed that the attitude of general student teachers is different towards the disabled students. Their idea of inclusion and acceptability differs in respect to the two types. This eventually leads to a creation of 'yours not mine' sort of an hostile environment between both the students and the staff. A second obstacle is that most of the time the leaders are unable to recognize the needs of the inclusive classrooms, and therefore, due to this lack of support from the staff and administrators, success is unlikely (Green).
Importance of Science
Science has been considered as the most valuable subject to be taught to the disabled students. Mostly general student teachers have training pertaining to teaching students with disabilities. Special student teachers have had training in teaching the science subjects. After the law which stated that every child has a right to attain education was passed, budgets were allocated for the funding of education of these special kids. But a problem came along with this acceptance. The science teachers were not efficient enough to convey the knowledge to special students, as they were little trained to deal with disabled students, and in general, special educators had little or no exposure to science. Therefore the knowledge which the students receive is mostly that from the text books. And nothing beyond the textbook knowledge could be explained to the special students. It was observed that the education towards science was not taken that seriously. Patton, Polloway and Cranon in a survey of special education teachers found that 42% of special education teachers received no training in science, 38% of self contained children in special education classes did not receive any science training. In the survey further it was found that special educators spent only 60 minutes in one week to science, and 90% of the teachers were dependant on the knowledge which was available in the textbooks. Therefore this shows that there was no real practical implication. Another shocking observation revealed that students with mild disabilities on an average of 200 minutes of textbook knowledge received 1 minute of science instruction (Norman, Casseu, & Stefanich, 1995).
Science has become a general focus for primary education. It is not necessary that science is only available to those who already have an opportunity and those who have received encouragement to pursue it. It is also made available to women and girls, all racial and ethnic groups, physically and educationally challenged, etc. However students with disabilities who are pursuing their careers in science often face a number of barriers. These barriers include historical, attitudinal, institutional, physical, and curricular barriers.
A project by the name of Creating Laboratory Access for Science Students (CLASS) has been initiated in order to prepare educators for inclusive classrooms. They even teach them the methods of eliminating the barriers (Kirch, Bargerhuff, Turner, & Wheatly).
The whole concept behind Class inclusions came into being after the mandate 'No child left behind' was passed. This mandate talked about children equality retrospect to education. Out of the seven approaches, Friend and Cooke talked about five of them. Co teaching is collaboration between the general teachers and the special teachers. Increase in instructional options should be one of the goals of the teachers. Apart from this, the participation and performance of these students should be enhanced. There are a number of ways of co teaching. In the first approach the teacher will be responsible for teaching while the other circulated throughout the room providing support. In the second approach, the teacher divides the students and content into groups, and then they split the time equally between each group. Parallel teaching is the third approach. In this approach the class is divided, and then the teacher teaches each group the same content. The fourth approach is known as the alternative approach. In this type the class is divided into two groups. One large and one small, and each teacher instruct one of the groups. The smaller group is usually the one which requires most of the attention. Elementary teachers had a more positive attitude towards co teaching rather than secondary teachers. Co teaching is basically a partnership between two teachers, one special education and one regular education. Elementary teachers would most likely to spends half a day or so with the special teachers. Whereas, the secondary teachers would prefer to spend a period or two only. Classroom management is an important issue. If the teachers plan their curriculum and teaching techniques in a advanced, then they would never have an issue managing a class. Plus the students will get to learn more from the teachers.
Advantages/Disadvantages of Co Teaching
There are a number of advantages and disadvantages of co teaching. Students in co teaching classes get the attention of two teachers at the same time. In this way the students could easily be handled, in addition to this the students get to learn more and they can attract more attention. Another advantage for the disabled students is that they no longer are labeled as studying in disabled schools, since they are studying with the normal students. However special teachers showed concerns about the large sized classrooms. They believed that often teachers don't get sufficient time to serve for disabled students because of the number of students in one class. Therefore they were not in favor of large class rooms, instead they preferred smaller ones (Joe, Dowdy, & Nichols).
There was a qualitative research carried out of two disabled. Melinda and Philips were both in the same class, and at the ages of 15 (Melinda) and 16 (Philips) they were diagnosed with cognitive disabilities. When the two of them turned 35, co incidentally they met and it was found that they were receiving support through the Medicaid Waiver. The two of them were asked to participate in a research that was taking place. The research was about the participant's educational and personal experiences at that time, the participant's lives immediately after leaving the schools, and the participant's current lives. During year one of the study, when the participants were of 15 and 16 years of age, the two of them were placed in self contained special education class. Melinda's records shows that after the first year, she was included in the general education classes. Philips on the other hand was observed to remain in self-contained special education classes for the remaining of his educational career which was at the age of 22. Over the time interviews were conducted with the participant's parents and themselves in order to determine any changes in the personal differences and performance levels.
The studies basically shows that during year one, Melinda was regressing academically and she showed signs of being disruptive in segregated classrooms. Philips on the other hand was not being disruptive in segregated classrooms, he was showing signs of maturity and he seemed to participate willingly in activities that require functional academics. After exiting school Melinda was seen to do better in high schools, she prefers working independently, and her signs of growth were increasing. Philips on the other hand is seen to lose self confidence. He was regressing academically, and was reluctant to interact with others. He had a fear of making mistakes and not doing things perfectly. When the researchers met Melinda 4 years after adulthood, when she was living, they found out that she lived alone in her apartment, had an extensive natural support network, and used coping strategies to assist with processing difficulties. Whereas in case of Philips, he lived in his parents' house, had lost several jobs and was currently working at a sheltered workshop for tokens, and had many difficulties in the community. After 8 years of living as an adult, it was observed that Melinda got married for an year. She was married to Philip, and the two of them shared an apartment. She had expanded her natural support network and was self assured of everything she did. Philips on the other hand had a part time job in the community, he approached advocates when in difficulties, and he requires frequent assurances because he is anxious with people around. Therefore the findings show that special education in inclusive general education settings may lead to better outcomes for students with disabilities (Ryndak, Ward, & Alper, 2010).
I personally am in a complete favor of inclusive education. In this way the disabled would never feel that he/she is low in capability then normal student. We all are equal and therefore shall be treated equally. The mandate which was taken out by the US which is "No Child Left Behind", should also be implemented in Pakistan, it gives an opportunity to both the teacher and the students. In addition, children studying in such an environment learn to be patient.