Perspectives on Learning Disabilities: Biological, Cognitive, Contextual

By Robert J. Sternberg; Louise Spear-Swerling | Go to book overview
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Preface

The goal of this book is to present alternative perspectives on learning disabilities, concentrating on what we believe to be the three most promising and widely adopted: biological, cognitive, and contextual. Obviously, these perspectives are not the only ones theorists and practitioners have on learning disabilities; nor are they mutually exclusive. On the contrary, most experts view learning disabilities as phenomena that can be understood at multiple levels, including the three emphasized in this volume.

The book was written with several different audiences in mind: students, scholars, practitioners, and parents of students with learning disabilities. Authors were asked to write at a level that would be accessible to the lay reader. At the same time, some of the concepts are technical, and there is no way around the clear expression that sometimes requires the use of appropriate technical terms. We believe the book will serve a useful function for individual readers and for courses with the goal of conveying to students the diversity of perspectives that constitute the field of learning disabilities today.

There are many books today that deal in one way or another with learning disabilities, and we hope that our book occupies a unique niche in its merger of several characteristics: (1) the presentation in a single volume of three sometimes diverging perspectives; (2) the selection of individuals who are world-renowned for their expertise in representing these perspectives; (3) a level of presentation that is accessible and useful to readers with a diversity of backgrounds; (4) a balance in presentation of theory, research, and suggestions for practice that will make the book appealing to people with different needs; and (5) an attempt to provide in the book only seriously thought-out scholarly positions rather than the sometimes mindless "hype" that one sometimes finds in the field and that represents personal opinions that seem to be backed by neither theory nor data nor even any remotely rational argument.

Although the book is divided into parts that represent the alternatives in perspective previously mentioned--biological, cognitive, and contextual--they may be read in any order. Similarly, the chapters within a part may be read in any order. In any case, many chapter authors connect two

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