The purpose of this paper is to give a summary on the article “Access, participation, and progress in the general education curriculum in the least Restrictive environment for students with significant cognitive disabilities” written by Ann Smith. The article addresses the right of education to children irrespective of their ethnicity, race, disabilities or family background. It is the duty of every teacher as well as the government and family members to ensure that all children are not deprived off their right to education.
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The author addresses certain issues that she considers importance in the understanding of the education curriculum in different countries especially among the less privileged members of the society. Smith has carried out adequate research to address the question. For instance, She found out that, before the introduction of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), children were discriminated against education on the ground of race (Smith, 2006). This was actually permitted by the state laws which allowed segregation in public schools. However, after the enactment of the Act, children from all families (including the low income earners) were given equal chances when it came to education. They were even allowed to sue the state incase they were deprived off their rights to education.
Smith carried out research on the education system of the United States and compared it with that from other nations. He found out that, children from other nations were performing much better than those from the United States. These results look absurd given that United States is one of the developed nation and we would expect it to lead in almost everything. But digging deeper to the problem, Smith found out that, the disparity was a result lack of proper preparation by the teachers. To curb this problem, new reforms were introduced which would ensure that students were prepared enough not only for the purpose of passing examinations but to prepare them for their future (Smith, 2006).
Is the article addressing a social problem?
I find Smith article as one that addresses a social problem of unequal distribution of opportunities. She addresses the problem of discrimination in the classrooms where most teachers have an eye for the bright students and ignores or gives little attention to those that need most attention (the disabled). It is good to note that, children go to school to acquire the skills they are not able to acquire from their family members or their peers. On the other hand, parents take their children to school not because they are a burden to them, but for them to acquire the education they can not be able to provide for them. It would therefore be unfair and disheartening for both the children and the parents if they are not able to acquire the expected learning.
Solutions to the problem
Smith found a solution to these problems, the office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services proposed the Regular Education Initiative (REI) that promotes learning for all children including those with disabilities. According to Smith (2006), “to create a universally designed inclusive high school science course captures the complexity of their task-to change course curriculum, instructional delivery, organization of learning environments, student participation, materials, and assessment by providing working in classes with teachers and teaching assistants”. She also observes that, Peer-mediated methods can be used to boost learning outcomes and social relations among students with and without disabilities.”
She advocates the use of cooperative learning where children assist each other in their assignment and the use direct instruction by teachers. Cooperative learning is a teaching strategy where students study in groups or small teams made up of students with different levels of aptitude. They use different learning activities in order to advance their understanding of a specific subject. Each member is responsible to helping team members to learn as he/she learns from the others. There is a great need to create individualized learning opportunities and create instructional supports for all students. This can be done by the use of direct instruction teaching technique which categorizes discriminations as choice-responses discriminations, production –response discriminations, and sentence-relationship discriminations.
I find the article interesting in that it does not only talk about the problem in question but also gives realistic solutions to the problem. On top of the solutions given by Smith, I would recommend the use of differentiated instruction in the education system. This helps students to learn and understand concepts according to their abilities. The step taken by the teachers to understand what works best for the students not only motivates them to work harder but it also raises they self-esteem.
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Smith, A. (2006). “Access, participation, and progress in the general education curriculum in the least Restrictive environment for students with significant cognitive disabilities”. Research & Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities Vol. 31, No. 4, 331-337