Inclusive Schooling: National and International Perspectives

By Stanley J. Vitello; Dennis E. Mithaug | Go to book overview

Series Foreword

Louise Cherry Wilkinson Dean and Professor of Education Psychology Rutgers Graduate School of Education June 22, 1998

The profession of education was shaken nearly two decades ago when national attention focused critically on education and on educators. Both critics and friends have raised some basic questions about our profession, including whether educational professionals have met the challenges that the students and the schools present, and even more fundamentally, if they are able to meet those challenges in the future. Beginning with the highly publicized A Nation at Risk, seemingly endless and often contradictory criticisms, analyses, and recommendations have appeared from virtually every segment of contemporary American society.

In this explosion of concern and ideas for education reform, we saw a need for a general and national forum, in which the problems of education could be examined in light of research from a range of relevant disciplines. Too often, in the academy, analyses of complex issues and problems occur solely within a single discipline. Aspects of a problem that are unfamiliar to members of the discipline are ignored largely, and the resulting analysis is limited in scope and unsatisfactory. Furthermore, when educational issues are investigated only by members of one discipline, there is seldom an attempt to examine related issues from other fields, or to apply methods developed in other fields that might enhance understanding.

The national debate on educational reform has suffered from this myopia, with problems and issues identified, and analyses and solutions proposed, only within the narrow confines of a single disciplinary boundary. In the past, national discussions have been ill informed or uniformed by current research, in part, because there are two few mechanisms for interdisciplinary analyses of significant issues.

The series of symposia, the Rutgers Invitational Symposia Education, addresses this gap. Each symposium focuses on timely issues and problems in education by taking a critical and interdisciplinary perspective. The symposia papers are published in separate volumes, with eleven thus far. Each volume focuses on a particular problem, such as the critical contributions of early childhood education to learning, how to assess literacy skills, the structure of effective schools, the role of cognitive psychology on how to teach mathematics,

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