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date: 28 January 2021

Transforming Special Education With an Inclusive, Rights-Based Approachlocked

  • JoDell HerouxJoDell HerouxCentral Michigan University
  •  and Susan PetersSusan PetersMichigan State University

Summary

Can inclusion and special education achieve education for all? The answer: It depends. What has been called “special education” began its rounds in schools as early as the late 19th century. Inclusive education first appeared in policy documents and mission statements nearly a century later, most notably and possibly most influentially in UNESCO documents and goals of Education For All, beginning in 2002. Both vary extensively in terms of approaches to instruction, service location, vocational background and training for teachers and support personnel, and in terms of who gets included and who gets excluded, to name a few variables. The views of both also often vary by roles; for example, parents, teachers, administrators, government officials. Both also evince major differences depending on the cultural contexts, economic resources, and historical traditions and views regarding education writ large. Exploring these variations and conditions provides insights for addressing the difficulties that face collaboration or merger of special education and inclusive education in order to achieve education for all.

After these difficulties have been acknowledged, an essential starting point for change in the direction of education for all entails finding common ground between special education and inclusive education in terms of purposes and end-goals. A human rights approach to common ground, purposes, and end goals provides an essential framework.

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