Theorising Special Education

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

12

CONFLICTING PERSPECTIVES ON LEARNING DISABILITIES
Gunnar Stangvik
Introduction
There is growing discomfort with the state of the art of special education. This book clearly shows that many workers in the field critically examine, or even deconstruct, concepts and assumptions and work to reconstruct the field of practice. In Norway, present reforms, which purport to dismantle special schools and institutions for the intellectually disabled, have made these needs paramount. In the wake of the reforms the state has launched an implementation project titled 'Restructuring special education' (Ormstrukturering av spesialundervisningen), and the Norwegian Council for Research has launched a parallel programme for special education research. This has brought special education issues to the forefront. Questions asked in this chapter are:
1 What is valid knowledge in special education?
2 Is there conflict between knowledge traditions?
3 What are the theoretical and practical consequences of different traditions?
4 What is the relationship between the field of practice and its knowledge traditions?
5 What is the relationship of special education to other sciences?
6 What future developments are necessary?

The concept of disability is the heart of the matter in special education. This concept is examined in the first part of the chapter. In the second part, transactional dimensions of disabilities are underscored and some practical implications of this line of thought are explored.


The relevance of perspectives

The necessity to scrutinise the assumptions that underpin current perspectives on learning disabilities is vigorously asserted by Reid and Hresko when they

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