Child Development and Teaching Pupils with Special Educational Needs

Child Development and Teaching Pupils with Special Educational Needs

Child Development and Teaching Pupils with Special Educational Needs

Child Development and Teaching Pupils with Special Educational Needs


A thought-provoking book which provides a framework for understanding the physical, sensory, emotional, social, linguistic and cognitive development of children with special educational needs. It gives practitioners and students a sound grasp of the theoretical ground needed to fully understand cognitive development and will help them track children's developmental progress in order to optimise learning opportunities. The authors handle complex topics in a highly accessible manner, explaining how to put theory into practice. In three lucidly argued sections they present: * an overview of the work of key theorists and thinkers, including Vygotsky, Piaget, Freud, Erikson, Bruner and the Korning theorists * an evaluation of the educational implications of the work of each theorist, using illustrative case studies * a consideration of areas of development in learning and teaching children with special educational needs. This book will be a beacon for teachers, head teachers, educational psychologists and all practitioners involved in special needs education who seek the opportunity to help empower their pupils, and enhance their own understanding.


In order to understand and promote development in typically developing children, practitioners in training are directed to study the views of a selected number of theorists. The collected works of these individuals, although analysed, evaluated and sometimes challenged, stand as authoritative and respected accounts of how humans develop from helpless newborn infants into mature, able and independent adults.

When teachers re-focus on pupils with special educational needs (SEN) they might be forgiven for thinking that these perspectives have little, if any, relevance for the teaching of pupils whose development is atypical. For our part, as practitioners, researchers and theorists, we agree that seminal texts on child development have much to offer but argue that they cannot claim to provide inclusive and comprehensive accounts of key aspects of development unless they have been interpreted in terms that can encompass atypical patterns.

To summarise our view, there is an ongoing need to interrogate theoretical frameworks for their contribution to our understanding of the potential, the progress and the attainment of any child with special educational needs. By examining the development of children, particularly those who require a high level of support in many different ways, we can evaluate and elaborate the frameworks. Our focus is their journey on a path of lifelong learning where pupils must acquire the skills of learning how to learn. These skills are explored throughout the book, particularly in Part 3, Chapter 9 (Cognition and learning).

In the first section of the book, we provide an overview of the work of an elite group of scientists and thinkers: Jerome Bruner, Erik Erikson, Sigmund Freud, Jean Piaget, Burrhus Frederick Skinner and Lev Vygotsky. At the same time, we recognise that there are many others on whom we might have focused but we believe these writers have much to offer the teaching and learning of children with special educational needs. Throughout the discussions original source material is referenced, and in the process the references reflect the cultural biases of the theorist in question. For example, writers in the past usually referred to the child as 'he' and, for contrast, the professional as 'she' and where this is the case we have adopted the same style. No sexist implications, however, are intended. As well as quoting from the theorist's own work we offer contemporary examples to illustrate major aspects or key concepts.

The educational implications of the work of each theorist are discussed in depth in the second part of the book and again, illustrative examples are provided. Our co-writers in their day-to-day contact have collected all the examples of pupils with special educational needs. Their backgrounds and areas of expertise in the special needs field are different and diverse and their collective experiences are extensive. Each offers distinctive perspectives on a wide range of pupils with difficulties and disabilities, including those from ethnic minorities.

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