Teachers' beliefs and practices observed in inclusive classes: A case study
Date of Award
Master of Education (M. Ed.)
Institute for Educational Development, Karachi
The world over there is a wave toward more inclusive educational settings for children who are disadvantaged in one-way or another. The Salamanca Conference of 1994 focused on the child with special education needs (SEN). There was a call to governments to ensure that children with SEN were given an appropriate education especially by being catered in the mainstream classes. Most western countries have more to show in this direction mainly due to the fact that they have a bigger resource base. The scenario in the developing countries shows less initiative and efforts towards including a child with SEN. It means that there is even less research done, and where efforts are made they lack enough support, direction and clarity. In Pakistan, like many developing countries the government has put more efforts in supporting the inclusion of the girl child compared to the inclusion of the child with SEN. But despite all the odds, some schools are implementing the policy on their own initiatives. It can be assumed that their beliefs in inclusive education drive their practices. This study set out to find out the kind of beliefs, their sources and their relationship with the practices. The study was a qualitative case study where in depth interviews and classroom observation of one teacher were conducted. The class had two pupils with SEN while the other fourteen had no special needs. It was discovered that in line with theories of education and teacher change, there is interplay between beliefs and practices. But that interplay is not necessarily linear in nature. There interplay is complex and the teacher's actions and beliefs are mediated by the context. Actually without understanding the contextual background underlying the actions, it is difficult to comprehend the actions for what they really are. The study also found that some SEN are more accomodatable than others in mainstream classes for example, the mild SEN, the less disruptive and the SEN which do not entail a lot of mental impairments. One biggest impediment to inclusive education is the societal perceptions of the people. The schools and teachers are ready to accommodate the children if well supported but the society needs to be made more positive and supportive towards people with disability and schools in particular. With that positivity all the rest might fall in place.
Khamis, G. (2003). Teachers' beliefs and practices observed in inclusive classes: A case study (Unpublished master's dissertation). Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan.