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Gerl (2010) points out in his advocacy of metaphysics as a way of approaching the philosophy of special education that this helps to construct a legal perspective which is evolving in a way that is consistent with the evolution of ethical perspectives of human dignity, individual rights and the treatment of those with disabilities. While this strikes as relevant, Gerl even concedes that one may not be suited for the metaphysical philosophy of special education law "if a lack of ambiguity appeals to you." Indeed, in a sense, traditional civil rights case law in combination with the ideals delivered by an axiology discourse should serve to effectively address the need for the evolution in ethical perspective. And quite simply stated, the philosophical underpinnings of Logic are problemetized in the educational context by the sheer force and divergence of opposing political, ideological and economic priorities. Therefore, the idea of constructing logical arguments in favor of particular approaches to policy and pedagogy in special education is highly vulnerable to equally logic-driven refutations. (Kozleski, p. 2)
Spectrum of Disabilities:
One of the primary reasons for the selection of epistemology as a driving framework for the present philosophy is its inherent versatility. The idea that knowledge-formulation is a highly variable individual characteristic speaks quite directly to the challenges of special education. Namely, the educator must pursue the construction of knowledge according to the individualized disabilities the propose distinct challenges for each IEP. The spectrum of Emotional, Physical, Mental and Social disabilities that drive placement in special education settings propose myriad permutations of learning aptitudes and deficiencies. Indeed, this range is so great that it is truly impossible to project the way that individual special needs students will experience either inclusion or self-containment with first a thorough examination of the epistemological parameters of each disability. Those with emotional and social disabilities such as students falling somewhere on the autism spectrum may yet have extraordinary learning capabilities in specific subjects. Or conversely, an individual presenting with the combination of physical and emotional disabilities that may be connected to Down Syndrome can require extra assistance because of sensory limitations. Such knowledge construction needs cannot be fully understood without comprehensive individual assessments, implicating an essential role for epistemology in the practical approach to special education.
Implementation in Inclusive and Self-Contained Settings:
In addition to the connection cited above between epistemological cognizance and endorsement of inclusion, the inclusion approach in particular seems to coalesce with the values of axiology by working to place special ed students in learning contexts where they can be a part of a more actualized social setting. According to Gordon, "students as human beings wish to find themselves valued and valuing members of the collaborative learning experience; and actually choosing some trait(s), behavior(s), or disposition(s) to introduce or work to eliminate with regard to each of their studies toward having a more aesthetic (life-enriching) learning experience would be a theoretical way to make this happen." (Gordon, p. 1)
That said, the use of self-containment does remain a crucial element of pursuing the values of epistemology stated here above. As a supplement to the inclusion strategy, self-containment is necessary as a way of working in settings where individualized attention can be given to particular areas of need. This allows the instructor to surmise the best ways of helping the disabled student optimize opportunities for knowledge formation so that such strategies can be applied in inclusion settings where attention is less individualized.
My central mission as a Special Educator is to best identify the individualized learning styles, educational needs and modes of knowledge formation that are specific to each student with disabilities. By ensuring that individualized strategies are achieved that best optimize the strengths and isolate the areas of need for special education students, it is my ambition to balance the socio-ethical imperative connecting the creation of personal culture and the correspondence with standards of social efficiency in each of my students.
Gerl, J. (2010). The Metaphysics of Special Education Law. Special Education Today.
Gordon, M. (1994). Toward a Complete Axiology of Classroom Practice. Boston University.
Kozleski, E. (2005). Logic Model for Whole School Educational Reform. National Institute for Urban School Improvement.
Silverman, J.C. (2007). Epistemological Beliefs and Attitudes Toward Inclusion in Preservice…[continue]
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