Labeling in Special Education

Words: 556
Topic: Education

Currently, there is an intense debate about labeling and its effects in the area of special education. Some people believe that labeling is helpful because it distinguishes those students who have learning problems from those who are regarded as normal. Additionally, they also believe that it creates cultural solidarity. Arguably, an individual who has been labeled as the one who has some learning problems will not feel part of the society, hence it cannot create cultural solidarity. Most students always feel disrespected when they are labeled as disabled learners. This categorization is majorly common in learning institutions. For instance, it has led to the inclined conclusions about the strengths and necessities of disabled students made by teachers. Many of them feel that the disabled students cannot excel in their studies like the rest of the students. In fact, performance strength of students cannot be affected by their condition given that some of them are gifted and talented.

Teachers are supposed to be watchful about using labels as this cannot only affect students with partial impairment, but also their families and friends. Therefore, disabled students should not be labeled, but recognized by their real names. If teachers have to use labels, then they must not stigmatize because labels always divide and devalue learners, both within and outside any school. Labels also impair students’ self-esteem. Therefore, it is important to understand some of the terminologies that cannot interfere with a learners’ confidence. The term “handicap” should be replaced with the term “disability” being a sign of respect. Students should not be recognized as “mentally retarded”, this term should be replaced with the term “intellectual disability” in order to avoid stigmatization. Arguably, the word “retard” is insulting and should not be used in any qualified or casual conversations.

The same changes should also be applied to other students; for example, term “cripple” should be avoided by all means. Instead, individuals who have any problems should be recognized as physically challenged. Therefore, these students will have the feeling that they are being loved and treated on equal terms with the rest of the learners. This will also make them feel part of the society and be confident. For that reason, they will be able to work harder towards achieving their goals. Physically challenged teachers should also form part of the teaching staff to ensure that they protect and fight for the rights of physically challenged students. They are also supposed to teach other students about the importance of giving respect to their colleagues who are mentally or physically challenged. The presence of physically challenged teachers inspires students with similar problems, thus they can recognize the possibility of achieving their dreams.

Instead of recognizing the students as physically disabled, the teachers should either avoid labeling them. Best of all, they should be identified by their real names. For teachers to avoid labeling, they are supposed to study more on the present approach in the area of special education. For instance, the current special education involves the study of responsiveness to intervention (RTI). Consequently, RTI helps teachers to improve their ways of educating the students with learning problems before labeling them. This also improves the students’ performance. Since RTI applies to every student irrespective of their status, this approach will help the educators fight the vice of labeling, hence improve their image.