Theorising Special Education

By Catherine Clark; Alan Dyson et al. | Go to book overview
Save to active project

4

FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE

Special education and the social relations of academic production

Derrick Armstrong, Felicity Armstrong and Len Barton


Starting out: placing theory within the context of social and political struggles

The suggestion that a theory of special education is 'needed' should not strike us as all that surprising. If nothing else, it does give us academics some self-legitimating acts to indulge ourselves in. Of course, it might also be argued that there is a pressing need for a theory of special education, because in recent years the education system of the UK has changed dramatically. In addition, there is evidence that increasing numbers of children are being excluded from schools, either because of 'troublesome behaviour' (Bourne et al., 1994; Hayden, 1996; Parsons et al., 1995) or because they have been identified as having special educational needs and consequently 'in need' of specialised provision, often outside the mainstream sector (Norwich, 1994). In this context 'theory' may have some explanatory value, yet, as the editors of this volume acknowledge, it is far from clear what a theory of special education should look like, or why it should make any difference to anything if one was developed.

The central contention of our chapter, therefore, is that research is itself a form of social engagement, it involves the construction of experience and as such necessarily constitutes a form of theorising that is informed by a whole set of assumptions and experiences which contextualise the nature of its critique and therefore its stance in relation to political action. In our own work this has led us to challenge the atheoretical assumptions that characterise much of the research in special education which is loosely and perhaps misleadingly centred upon unexplicated and unproblematised humanitarian values such as 'care', 'equal opportunities', 'access', 'school improvement'. On the other hand, we have become increasingly aware of the institutional pressures academics work under and how these operate structurally to inhibit critique by separating researchers from the subjects of inquiry, which can lead to a separation of theory and research.

-32-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Theorising Special Education
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 199

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?