A Brief History of Special Education

Perhaps the largest and most pervasive issue in special education, as well as my own journey in education, is special education’s relationship to general education. History has shown that this has never been an easy clear cut relationship between the two. There has been a lot of giving and taking or maybe I should say pulling and pushing when it comes to educational policy, and the educational practices and services of education and special education by the human educators who deliver those services on both sides of the isle, like me.

Over the last 20+ years I have been on both sides of education. I have seen and felt what it was like to be a regular main stream educator dealing with special education policy, special education students and their specialized teachers. I have also been on the special education side trying to get regular education teachers to work more effectively with my special education students through modifying their instruction and materials and having a little more patience and empathy.

Furthermore, I have been a mainstream regular education teacher who taught regular education inclusion classes trying to figure out how to best work with some new special education teacher in my class and his or her special education students as well. And, in contrast, I have been a special education inclusion teacher intruding on the territory of some regular education teachers with my special education students and the modifications I thought these teachers should implement. I can tell you first-hand that none of this give and take between special education and regular education has been easy. Nor do I see this pushing and pulling becoming easy anytime soon.

So, what is special education? And what makes it so special and yet so complex and controversial sometimes? Well, special education, as its name suggests, is a specialized branch of education. It claims its lineage to such people as Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard (1775-1838), the physician who “tamed” the “wild boy of Aveyron,” and Anne Sullivan Macy (1866-1936), the teacher who “worked miracles” with Helen Keller.

Special educators teach students who have physical, cognitive, language, learning, sensory, and/or emotional abilities that deviate from those of the general population. Special educators provide instruction specifically tailored to meet individualized needs. These teachers basically make education more available and accessible to students who otherwise would have limited access to education due to whatever disability they are struggling with.

It’s not just the teachers though who play a role in the history of special education in this country. Physicians and clergy, including Itard- mentioned above, Edouard O. Seguin (1812-1880), Samuel Gridley Howe (1801-1876), and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (1787-1851), wanted to ameliorate the neglectful, often abusive treatment of individuals with disabilities. Sadly, education in this country was, more often than not, very neglectful and abusive when dealing with students that are different somehow.

There is even a rich literature in our nation that describes the treatment provided to individuals with disabilities in the 1800s and early 1900s. Sadly, in …

Education – Your Passport to Success

Never underestimate the importance of education when it comes to getting the job of your dreams. Some people know exactly what they want to be when they “grow up” where as other take time to decide what career that they want to follow.

Getting good grades at High school is imperative to get a place on the course that you want to go on at University but if you don’t it is not the end of the world as re-sits are available to you or you can take access courses that will plump up your grades and help you to gain a place on the University course that you want to take.

There is of course another option when it comes to education – on the job training. This is where an employer takes on an employee on a low ranked position where they will work their way up the ranks going on courses as they go to enable them to eventually take on a position of a higher rank. This option does take years to achieve but it also allows you to understand and appreciate the effort that the “lower” ranked jobs go through allowing you to be a better manager, supervisor or person of authority and standing.

So when you weigh your options up, what should you do? Well, it all depends on what you want the end result to be. Choosing to plan your future based on the goals and ideals that you would like to achieve can be very helpful as it allows you to take an in depth look at the time scale you will need to achieve your dream job on the different routes that you can take. It allows you to decide on trips you may want to take; gap-years you may want to back pack on and allow time to financial plan. Education in some areas cost more than others so making sure you are able to be financially capable of completing your education is important if you are unable to obtain a funding source.

During you time being educated you may find that another interest begins to interest you and if you feel the pull enough to want to change your goal as your desire for success comes from a different field then sit down and re-evaluate your plans, take a long hard look at them and change them if it will gain you more happiness through this new goal.

The same reasoning applies as nothing in life can be expected at all times, sometimes life just happens and you may need to change your plans for those reasons that are beyond your control, the most common of these are personal reasons.

But never lose your way no matter what happens to you in your life as every experience is important and life experience cannot be taught in any classroom. Blips happen in the road but how you get to your eventual successful job is by keeping your dreams alive.…