Personal Philosophy of Special Education

Subject: Education
Pages: 4
Words: 914
Reading time:
5 min
Study level: Master

Education is widely recognized as a basic human right that contributes to the individual’s social development and well-being. In a just society, all members should have fair access to learning opportunities irrespective of their social background or personal abilities. Special education serves this goal by addressing the unique learning needs of learners with disabilities. It emphasizes inclusivity and equity in education, which create a fair learning environment for all learners to realize their full potential. As a faculty member in the department of special education, my professional training and experience working with children with disabilities have shaped my understanding of, and approach to the teaching of children special needs. I believe that special education plays an important role in promoting equity and excellence, and therefore, it must be inclusive, equitable, and be designed to help learners develop their unique abilities.

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My career goal is to use my position as a faculty member to bridge the gap between research, policy and practice in the area of special education. Despite the best intentions, several factors hinder any government’s effort to achieve inclusivity, equity, and excellence in education (Ainscow, 2016). These include shortage of special education teachers, inadequate special education teacher preparation, and inadequate funding of special education programs (McLaughlin et al., 2016). In addition, education system is skewed in favor of equality over equity (Riordan et al., 2019). To address these challenges, there is a need for research to play a leading role in guiding policy formulation and implementation in the education sector (Ion & Iucu, 2015; Akareem & Hossain, 2016). Towards this goal, I intend to engage in scholarly research as a means to promoting evidence-based approaches to teacher preparation and educational policy making.

Children with handicaps such as visual impairment tend to achieve poor educational results, and as a consequence, experience poor social outcomes. The reason for this situation is that special education continues to receive less attention in the scholarly community (Cheng & Lai, 2020). In particular, little research has been carried out to clarify and highlight the relationships among factors such as poverty, family engagement, learner resilience, and school performance (Bixler & Anderson, 2019). In my capacity as a faculty member and scholar, I will contribute to research on pedagogy as a means to promoting better understanding of how children with disabilities learn. For instance, students with disabilities have unique learning needs, necessitating the need for individual-centered approach to teaching and assessment (Hurwitz et al., 2020). It is through such strategies that players in the education sector can promote equity and excellences in special education.

Inadequate preparation of special education teachers is also partially responsible for the shortage observed in this field. Moreover, there is lack of role clarity, for example, the specific duties that separate special education teachers from their general education counterparts (Shepherd et al., 2016). Through research, I will help to bridge the gap between policy and practice, by stressing the need to address poor working conditions and lack of support for special education teachers (Ondrasek, 2020). Through teaching, I will contribute to adequate training of university students who will become special education teachers.

Further, I believe that to achieve excellence in special education, policy makers must shift from viewing teaching as the methodical transmission of pieces of information from the teacher to the learner (Matsuyama et al., 2019). Preparation of future special education teachers should, as a matter of necessity, instill in university students the best pedagogical skills. This approach will enable future specialists to guide students with disabilities in connecting classroom learning with their lived experiences (Learning Policy Institute, 2020). The purpose of this strategy is to equip disadvantaged learners with the special skills they will need to succeed in different careers and lead full lives.

Finally, affirmative actions aimed at achieving equity in education, for example, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, have come under criticism, on grounds that it promotes reverse discrimination (Skrtic, 1991). For instance, critics argue that assigning disproportionately more resources to minority groups in education is a form of discrimination against majority groups, who also have a right to equality (Moore, 2018). The implication of this argument is that promoting equitable resource allocation to benefit learners with disabilities, discriminates against general education learners. However, I strongly believe that such claims are misguided, because they conveniently overlook the idea behind the push for equity in education. The objective is not to deny general education learners their fair share of resources, but to create an inclusive education system in which every learner can thrive (Bixler & Anderson, 2019). The equity paradigm recognizes the fact that learners with disabilities require special and extra services such as speech therapies and remedial teaching, to enable them compete fairly with their non-handicapped peers.

To conclude, I subscribe to the philosophy that special education should embody the ideas of inclusivity, equity, and individual excellence. Considering that learners with disabilities struggle with various handicaps, it is necessary to create and support a learning environment where every student can thrive. My interest is in research and teaching, which I consider essential in advancing my philosophy of special education. Through scholarly research, I will contribute to effective policy making with respect to the needs of learners with disabilities. Moreover, through teaching, I will help to bridge the gap between research and practice. I will achieve this objective by training future special education teachers, and in doing so help to address the issues of shortage and inadequate preparation of special education teachers.

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References

Ainscow, M. (2016). Diversity and equity: A global education challenge. New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, 51, 143-155.

Akareem, H. S., & Hossain, S. S. (2016). Determinants of education quality: What makes students’ perception different? Open Review of Educational Research, 3(1), 52-67.

Bixler, K., & Anderson, J. A. (2018). Interagency collaboration to improve school outcomes for students with mental health challenges. In I. Tshabangu (Ed.). Global ideologies surrounding children’s rights and social justice (pp. 140-155). IGI Global.

Cheng, S. C., & Lai, C. L. (2020). Facilitating learning for students with special needs: A review of technology-supported special education studies. Journal of Computers in Education, 7, 131-153.

Dewey, J., Sindelar, P. T., Bettinni, E., Boe, E. E., Rosenberg, M. S., & Leko, C. (2017). Explaining the decline in special education employment from 2005-2012. Exceptional Children, 83(3), 315-329.

Hurwitz, S., Perry, B., Cohen, E. D., & Skiba, R. (2020). Special education and individualized academic growth: A longitudinal assessment of outcomes for students with disabilities. American Educational Research Journal, 57(2), 576-611.

Ion, G., & Iucu, R. (2015). Does research influence educational policy? The perspective of researchers and policy-makers in Romania. In A. Curaj., L. Matei, R. Pricopie, J. Salmi, & P. Scott. (eds.). The European higher education area (pp. 865-880). Springer.

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Learning Policy Institute. (2020). Federal role in advancing education equity and excellence. Learning Policy Institute.

Matsuyama, Y., Nakaya, M., & Okazaki, H. (2019). Does changing from a teacher-centered to a learner-centered context promote self-regulated learning? A qualitative study in a Japanese undergraduate setting. BMC Medical Education, 19, 152.

McLaughlin, V. L., West, J. E, & Anderson, J. A. (2016). Engaging effectively on the policy making process. Teacher Education and Special Education, 39(2), 134-149.

Moore, W. L. (2018). Maintaining supremacy by blocking affirmative action. Contexts, 17(1), 54-59.

Ondrasek, N., Scott, C., & Darling-Hammond, L. (2020). California’s special education teacher shortage (policy brief). Palo Alto, CA: Policy Analysis for California Education.

Riordan, M., Klein, E., & Gaynor, C. (2019). Teaching for equity and deeper learning. How does professional learning transfer to teacher’s practice and influence students’ experiences? Equity& Excellence in Education, 52(2-3), 327-345.

Shepherd, K. G., Fowler, S., McCormick, J., Wilson, C. L., & Morgan, D. (2016). The search for role clarity: Challenges and implications for special education teacher preparation. Teacher Education and Special Education, 39(2), 83-97.

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Skrtic, T. M. (1991). The special education paradox: Equity as the way to excellence. Harvard Educational Review, 61(2), 148-206.