Conceptualizing social inclusion within teacher education
Greater numbers of students with disabilities are being educated in mainstream settings, enrolled in regular classes, placed with ‘regular’ students, and with teachers who often have limited experience or knowledge about their speciﬁ c disability. The decision for placement of these students in regular classes, with little consideration for their unique social needs, unwittingly acts as a catalyst for their social isolation. Little, if any, consideration is given to these students’ specialized social needs when they are placed in regular education classrooms. Little attention is given to preparing these students for the social integration that is assumed will take place. Teachers with limited knowledge of disability struggle to successfully include these students socially into their classes. This chapter will examine the role of teachers in the facilitation of socially inclusive opportunities for students. An initial discussion of the term ‘social inclusion’ will be followed by an exploration of constructs impacting upon teachers’ attitudes toward the social aspects of disability. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the implications of social inclusion for teacher training programs.