Research on Classroom Ecologies: Implications for Inclusion of Children with Learning Disabilities

Research on Classroom Ecologies: Implications for Inclusion of Children with Learning Disabilities

Research on Classroom Ecologies: Implications for Inclusion of Children with Learning Disabilities

Research on Classroom Ecologies: Implications for Inclusion of Children with Learning Disabilities

Synopsis

Written during a period of reexamination and change in the field of special education, this book was developed in order to provide a better understanding of the contexts in which children receive their formal education. The movement toward the "least restrictive environment" for the education of children with disabilities is weathering a wave of reinterpretations including mainstreaming, the regular education initiative, and inclusion. While each interpretation has its proponents and critics, limited theory and few data are available to guide these important policy decisions.

Focusing specifically on classrooms -- the settings where educators can have the most immediate impact and where research is most needed -- this volume's goals are:

• to establish what is known about classroom ecologies from both general and special education perspectives,

• to integrate the perspectives of researchers and practitioners, and

• to chart directions for further research specifically related to children with learning disabilities.

The construct of classroom ecology is defined as three interrelated domains: instruction, teacher and peer interaction, and organization and management. This scheme provides the structure for the book. Taken as a whole, the content of the volume underscores the limits of current knowledge and at the same time provides directions for needed changes in both research and practice.

Excerpt

Edward Zigler Sterling Professor of Psychology Yale University

The field of education has undergone major upheavals, in terms of both philosophy and practice, in recent years. Educators, and those who train and administer them, have weathered criticism, frustration, and the daunting process of reinterpretation and virtual reconstruction of their modes of practice and their proper roles in the intellectual and social development of children. As a society, we are gradually moving away from an educational paradigm in which the child is seen as the passive recipient of information imparted in a school setting insulated and separate from the other spheres of that child's life. Increasingly, educators have joined psychologists in viewing the child as a complex being whose abilities, learning capacities, and identity are influenced by many aspects of the environment, including his own experiences and actions. Part of this revised picture is the importance of the child's active participation in the learning process and the role classroom and school climate can play in fostering the acquisition of knowledge.

Such fundamental shifts in educational theory have caused tremors throughout the field, as practitioners struggle to adjust to new ways of teaching and interacting with children and with their colleagues. But, with the uncertainty of change also comes excitement and the potential for growth. Nowhere is this opportunity more apparent than in the context of educating children once placed outside the circle of general education classrooms: children with learning disabilities. As a psychologist who has seen trends in the areas of mental retardation and special education come and go, I have long been a proponent of our viewing the child with learning disabilities or other . . .

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