chapter  3
24 Pages

Issues and dilemmas in special education

Heated debates about educational issues, as Broadfoot has noted (1979), often do more to obscure than to clarify the real issues. However, the previous chapter's discussion of the development of special education in terms of conflicting interests and wider social needs, rather than in terms of humanitarian evolution, should make it clear that some groups concerned with special education actually have vested interests in structuring debates in particular ways rather than clarifying issues. The debate on integration provides a good example. It is to be expected that special school teachers would like to structure the debate in terms of the difficulties inherent in the integration of handicapped children into ordinary school life if this would eventually lose them clients. Administrators, on the other hand, might like to structure the debate in terms of which form of education costs less. This chapter examines what have emerged as some of the important issues and dilemmas in special education: categorisation and selection, the rhetoric of special needs, and the integration debate. These issues are often presented in purely 'educational' terms, whereas they actually reflect wider social, political and professional interests of various groups.