Sunday, November 4, 2007

Self Analysis

As the daughter of an administrator, I came into this blog with an already developed opinion with detailed information. This was an advantage because it allowed me to skip the surface information and delve into more specific topics, yet it was a disadvantage because I created assumptions that my audience may not have been as well informed. With that in mind, my thinking on the issue of mainstreaming had less ability to grow yet was still open to persuasion.

On the issue of determining when students should begin mainstreaming, my opinion has been shaped based on current schools that have mainstreaming plans. I have found that most examples of mainstreaming are beginning the process at the age of late elementary to early middle school. This age is ideal for both special needs children and regular students because it allows both groups to become “tempered.” At this age, opinions are developed, and by introducing the two groups together it prevents those opinions from being negative. Also, at this age, the special need students are able to jump start their education, possibly allowing them to bypass the special education track later on in middle school or high school.

As far the qualifications of a mainstreaming candidate, I really have a weak opinion. My research has not lead me one way or another, making it hard to define what needs can and cannot be met in both types of classrooms. I have always believed that mainstreaming is not for every child; diagnosis must be on an individual basis, even for children with the same types of disorders.

My opinion has not changed, however, on whether or not mainstreaming should or should not be implemented. With all of the statistical evidence that has been brought forward recently, I am more in support of inclusive classrooms than ever.

The greatest revelation that occurred to me during this blog was on the thought process of answering “If there is so much evidence that mainstreaming is good, then why is it not standard procedure across the country?” I earlier theorized that this problem lies below the surface of education, deeper into our social core of values. I believe that the main problem with this issue is our nation’s history of the inability to deal with equality and selfishness. There is a somewhat negative connotation to special education, so including special education students into a mainstreamed classroom would, in many eyes, be like spoiling the atmosphere. There must be a large social confrontation in order to overcome this obstacle before the logistics of mainstreaming can ever be in question, and at this point in time, our society is nowhere near its potential.

Through my analysis of this social issue, I have really realized how it coincides with a national problem that has taken place since the nation’s birth. The similarities between mainstreaming and racism create an analogy that can be very powerful. With two distinct groups of people, there is always chance for some sort of discrimination or divide, and if that gap persists, in both races and academic ability, there is a loss of human connection. Along with a fear of equality, our nation faces a fear of being different, but in order to make a change to mainstreaming- one that is proven to be positive in all aspects- our country will have to overcome deep bred social norms.

I believe that one of the biggest dangers of not using inclusion is the relationship that special education students have with the current rise in technology. If students are not taught the staple of our society today, we will be leaving them behind only to fail. Because of technology’s importance to society today, if special education students do not learn how to communicate and work with technology they will not have the tools to help them succeed, even with the help of others. In today’s age, a student without access to technology is like a student without a pencil and paper.

Because I was forced to defend one side of this issue, I learned how to create a powerful argument. In this case, I found research extremely useful in creating and maintaining a mindset, but looking back now, I see that the authorities that I relied on for research could have created a somewhat biased argument. Though I used very reliable sources, I do not think that I sought out a very diverse variety of sources. The majority of my sources came from educational journals or databases, therefore giving me a tainted, yet very educated view on the subject. If I had focused even more on teachers and parents I’m sure that I would have found more negative aspects of mainstreaming because of the support that most educators have for mainstreaming.

I have truly appreciated the opportunity to create a project that was structured to interact and argue with my peers. Their feedback helped me expand my thinking and research areas of the issue that I would have never thought of. This project has taught me something very important about binary issues and those that hold opinions about them: you must overturn every rock in the pond before you can make a judgment. If there is something left out of your research, your argument will be flawed and picked apart by others, and you will not grow as much as a thinker.