Better Learning, Better Behaviour

Better Learning, Better Behaviour

Better Learning, Better Behaviour

Better Learning, Better Behaviour

Synopsis

Better Learning, Better Behavior explores the issues surrounding young people experiencing social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties (SEBD) and suggests teaching strategies that, in targeting such children, work to the benefit of all at school. Furthermore, the book argues that, within a context of inclusion, provision for pupils regarded as belonging to the category of SEBD requires a refocusing onto their learning rather than their behavior. The focus of educational policy has become increasingly rights-based and conflicts arise from, for example, the right of children with SEBD to be taught alongside their peers as against the right of the majority of pupils to learn without the disruption caused by inappropriate behavior. Through a critical examination of theories of behavior and learning, and recent policy and research, this book argues that traditional approaches that focus on young people's behavior have been inadequate and have led to the marginalization of children and their teachers. These traditional approaches have led to the construction of pupil and teacher identities that are based on personal and professional deficit, thus reinforcing views that segregated provision is the most appropriate educational context for this group. Instead, the author recommends that a shift in practice that is posited on optimistic theories of behavior and adopts a focus on learning rather than behavior that will help create the identities of effective learners and teachers, enhancing the educational experience of all young learners in schools.

Excerpt

This volume focuses on those children and young people who are regarded as 'different' because their behaviour has been perceived as difficult by society and by schools and teachers. In a period when inclusion policies are paramount, young people experiencing social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD) continue to be marginalised and present challenges to educational policy-makers, school managers and teachers.

Dr Head outlines the historical background to the issues associated with behaviour and learning and associated support before considering the issues that confront us today. He indicates that there have always been young people whose behaviour has been regarded as problematic by adults and who pose a series of challenges for society but the critical issue is how society and schooling relate to such behaviour. This tracing of the development of policy and practice proffers a critique of the charitable model and its associated deficit concepts such as beneficence, containment and remediation; the needs model and Warnock's continuum of special needs and resultant optimism about progress; and the more recent rights model adopted with its emphasis on inclusion.

He goes on to assess the impact of dominant theories of behaviour and provides a critical analysis of legislation, policy and practice, informed by consideration of the series of national reports and codes of practice which have emerged in the past few decades. The author suggests that the various approaches and interventions retain elements of deficit and disability. Brief case studies are used to illustrate arguments and recent Scottish research is considered to highlight innovative approaches, identify possible contradictions and to determine the current state of teacher perceptions of SEBD and school practice. Another key issue explored is what professional development might prove beneficial to enhancing the 'affective curriculum' and creating a context of inclusion where provision for young people experiencing SEBD requires a refocusing on their learning with the resultant Better Learning, Better Behaviour.

Dr Jim O'Brien Vice Dean and Director, Centre for Educational Leadership, Moray House School of Education, The University of Edinburgh

Dr Christine Forde Senior Lecturer in Educational Studies The University of Glasgow . . .

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