Mainstreaming is the appointment of special students who may be students with special needs or in relation to gender. The appointment of special students is done in the least restrictive environment as possible. It is a very preferred practice even though it is not included in the law. Mainstreaming can be referred to the settings are closest to that of non disabled children that also meets the educational needs of the child with disabilities.
At times it has been used interchangeably with inclusion, to many individuals they seem similar but they are very different movements. Their controversy is why students with disabilities ought to join general schools when possible. The concept of mainstreaming is directed on the policy that the students with disabilities can benefit from the general education. The benefits accrued are both academic and social.
Inclusion on the other hand suggests that students with disabilities should not be discriminated in getting education opportunities. Inclusion says a student in such a class only needs to show she/he is not loosing out in that class but this does not apply for all students with disability. It tends to put more emphasis on social skills and life grounding than the level of appropriate academic level (Watson, 2010, 1).
Issues surrounding mainstreaming
Mainstreaming can occur in all aspects from life, to environment all being defined differently. In the sector of education mainstreaming has been largely identified especially among people with special needs and disabilities. This is where they are put in classes together with the non-disabled peers. This helps prevent segregating the students with special needs. This has a bunch of advantages in that they like attend schools they would normal attend. This helps them to overcome the issues of them being bad omens in the society and also a burden for everything pertain them is been handled normally.
Education becomes more genuine and a reality to them they are therefore able to put more emphasis on education. This opens their minds to see what the lives of the normal children involved and they are able to interact with the society more effectively. The special and the regular education give an individualized approach. This is a place of opportunities to develop the social element of the students with disabilities. Segregating them is like closing them out of learning and new adventures they would want to make in life (Watson, 2010, 1).
Stigma as a major issue of mainstreaming
The program of study is more important than the grades students attain; it helps open up individuals involved to the reality of life. They learn how to deal with life issues even they are not tested in the exams. This is a manufacturing sector for skills that helps one in the laying and stabilizing of his/her life. Mainstreaming gives a greater sense of belonging to all the students; especially those who have been mistreated in their homes they get a sense of belonging in the schools. Also they are taught to do some of the things they see their normal family members do which help hem fit more in their families.
In the education sectors issues of segregation range from those of students with special needs to gender. In the recent past there have been a lot of issues of gender discrimination on the basis of gender especially in the third world or the developing countries. The gender issues had become an issues surrounded with controversy. Many nations today have been in the move to implement mainstreaming in their schools though thing may have not worked quickly.
One of the greatest challenges which have been the most common is deriving the best way to provide education to the special need students. Though their main aim has been to give them a positive experience in education, yes it did help in the social aspects that accompany education but it has been wanting on the best way to offer the skills of education to the special kids in the midst of the other children.
Considering that the reason for placing these children in normal class is to kill the stigma associated with disability, it has been argued that mainstreaming has ended up creating more stigmas in these students. The stigma develops as their attention is being drawn from not spending their whole day in the regular class which is done so as the special teacher can help them overcome their disabilities which does not translate to inability. They only need some special attention to overcome them and get to the standards of normal students. They urge instead inclusion should be used to allow these students not get stigmatized. This is where they are allowed to spend their time fully in the normal class with the normal students. This seems a little bit hard in that people with disabilities like blindness need a tutorial to enable them use brail before they are included in the main classes (Watson, 2010, 1).
Benefits of mainstreaming in fighting stigma
Despite the challenges pointed out by different individuals according to their areas of specialization, mainstreaming has a lot of benefits and the three major ones are deeply entrenched for a well established life of the students with disabilities. To begin with, as they experience the general curriculum they are able to achieve very recommendable results as they work alongside and compete with their peers. Mainstreaming has yield higher academic achievements and worked more effectively in comparison with the exclusion practices. Availability of resource centers has improved learning on the side of students with disabilities as they are able to access materials and instructions as their peers. Both mainstreaming and inclusion have yielded great fruits in boosting the academic achievements of the special students. Most interestingly it has helped improve the long term behaviors of these students (Madsen, 2007, 1).
The efficacy of those students with disabilities has been improved through engaging them in regular paced education setting because it helps them to have more confidence in themselves. It helps them equate themselves at the same level with their peers for they always admire when they are not treated differently. The inclusion creates a picture in their mind that even though they may be lacking in one area there is no much difference they can outdo their peers in other areas. This helps them to gain confidence in life hence enabling them to explore their world wider with an open mind.
Students are known for learning through observation, mainstreaming therefore enables these students to be able to learn many other things through observation from their peers. They are able to learn and understand the environment better. To children with autism who mostly have problems with communication and social interactions have been known to improve to more than six times when they are put into special schools (Spearman, 2002, 1).
More importantly educating these children gives them an atmosphere which prepares them for function beyond the schools. This enables these students to acknowledge that they are recognized as productive people in the society and their tolerance and self worth are also improved. Interaction with people with differences helps these students develop the right attitudes as they frequently interact with other people.
Deeper aspects of mainstreaming and stigma
The teacher in class should realize that students with disabilities require more attention from them than what they need from their peers. This may cost the teacher to take way some time and attention to meet the needs of the special students so as to make the child keep up with the pace of the class. The effects mostly depend on the specific disability the child bears and the available facilities to support such student. The problems are mitigated at a general level by the placement of an aide in the classroom to support the child (Hurley, 1993, 1).
It has been noted that parents have fear in handling the students with special needs due to lack of training on how to handle them in the general education settings. The supportive services offer good remedy for some concerns, but modifications needed for these students are resistant to having this student in the general class. This can deteriorate the performance of such students in the classroom. Mainstreaming students creates an atmosphere that makes the special needs students feel conspicuous or socially rejected for they are separated at some times in class. They are therefore likely to be targets for bullying. Embarrassment becomes an ideal aspect of their lives as they receive an aide in class at some point to assist them manage their behaviors or in written work. Most of these students would be comfortable if they are given the same treatment as that given to others at the same level in the education setting.
Among all that we may consider we should not overlook the issue of cost in terms of material and monetary. Education for the special needs students is a bit higher compared to the general education. This is because it calls for inclusion of an aide to keep on assisting the student. It also calls for special supportive material e.g. for the blind the need a brail for the deaf they need some hearing aids. Apart from this the average fees for a special child is one and half times the cost of general education.
Perception accrued to mainstreaming
The acceptance of people with disabilities in national schools is very low according to research. If i can look at this issue the personal and environmental variables determines how individual classify themselves for example popular, rejected, neglected, average and controversial e. t. c. These are issues of the identity we get from our environment we grow and find ourselves in.
To begin with, I highly advocate that the mainstreaming should be done for different stages of life to allow for well founded. For example to give them special needs students a good understanding of what happen in the society, they should begin with an inclusion in the general education settings. This will give t hem an understanding of what education involves and help they gain the concept of self worth. They will be able to develop social relations and interaction in their lives. This will help lay a good foundation on the expectation the education sector have for them (DeafLinx.com, 2010, 1).
At the stage of higher childhood and teenage hood let the get to the special schools which will enable them get enough training and skills that would help them fit in the general education sector and also in the society. This special attention in the special schools helps them be able to upgrade their levels so that they attain the same level with their normal counterparts. They area also able to learn the complementary skills and materials the can use to cope well with their normal peers.
Their full inclusion should be in their advanced level of education where they will be able to compete with their counter parts for the job market. At this stage they are independent hence they have fought stigma and they have fully developed their abilities and been able to overcome their weaknesses. This is the professional stage whereby they are interacting to build their careers which need their interactions with the other students. Inclusion should be adopted at this level for it helps them better their skills.
Though mainstreaming has helped in developing social relations for the disabled students when done at an appropriate stage like the early childhood it would work well and introduced by a trainer with the knowledge of special needs students it would help establish the students’ foundations of the life (The Baltimore Sun, 2007, 1).
Mainstreaming and inclusion are key issues dominating the real world of students with special needs. This two when well applied in their lives they would yield exceedingly beautiful results. They are the key elements of orientation. They place the students with disabilities right in the society. They are able to identify themselves with their normal counterparts who help them build up a good bench mark for their lives even though they are lack in some areas. This helps them learn to utilize their strengths to complement their normal students in their weaknesses and vice versa.
DeafLinx. (2010). DeafLinx.com: Deaf Education Options Guide. US: DeafLinx.com. Web.
Hurley, A., (1993). Teachers’ attitudes toward the integration of Disabled students into their classrooms. Melbourne: University of Melbourne. Web.
Madsen, L., (2007). Should school mainstream special Ed students? US: BlogHer. Web.
Spearman, M., (2002). Mainstreaming special needs students: Understanding the debate. USA: helium.com. Web.
The Baltimore Sun., (2007). The special-education debate — is mainstreaming good or bad for kids? Calvert Street: Baltimoresun.com. Web.
Watson, S., (2010). Mainstreaming. New York: About.com. Web.