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August 7, 2008

Social Vs Medical model

Filed under: ECU MInT,EDU5373 Special Education,Rant — steve @ 6:06 pm

This post is in response to the week 2 discussion topic: Social Model Vs Medical model – “thoughts on more progressive approaches to working with individuals with disabilities”.

This post is the first opportunity, at the end of the second week of study, to write in a style (1) of a subjective/first person view, and (2) without concern to A.P.A. referencing. Therefore; my thoughts and my feelings without restriction – what an enjoyable experience that can be!  [No doubt Freud would be able to relate that pleasure back to the id's desires for lack of restraint and inhibition while the ego-ideal allows my ego to be able to achieve those objects of desire with free rein ...]

My personal experience is that the social model can be viewed at times as just another herding mentality towards education that does not recognise individuals’ needs. It is, after all, far more economical for State Governments to place those with disabilities in with non disabled students and let the teacher deal with those students’ needs. This might sound cynical as, well, it is: Australia has many issues with education funding: teacher salaries, work-loads, staff satisfaction levels etc,. (as I am sure other countries have too), and it is not difficult to see how one particular model can be promoted as being more ‘socially acceptable’ when the bottom line is the education budget.

Now, that is not meant to imply that all students with disabilities require additional teaching time and/or resources compared to their classmates without disabilities. Rather that, even though there is recognition that some students with disabilities will require additional attention in the tuition and preparation of additional resources to suit those particular students’ individual learning needs, little, if any, support is provided by the funding system to address these additional needs in main stream classes for the teacher/lecturer concerned – at least not at TAFE.

Medical/remedial/compensatory approaches to education are still valid for those students who need that support, as to not provide this support would appear as a failure to recognise those students’ special needs. Social/inclusive models also have their place depending on individual needs as segregation only creates societal barriers, ignorance and lack of appreciation of these people as members of society. The answer, it would seem, would be for a broader understanding that individuals with special needs need individualised programs rather than ‘a’ specific model that aims to account for all students while really just labeling them the same, i.e., ‘special’, or ‘disabled’.

Perhaps there will be changes in how education is conducted over the coming decades for the upcoming generations of children so that it does meet their individual needs – then all students, whether able, disabled, special needs, or however they are defined, have access to learning materials and support that enable them to learn without being herded into a class room for economic reasons.

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