Mainstreaming in Education
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In today’s classroom environment, mainstreaming is becoming the norm. This refers to the inclusion of students with special needs in the general education classroom as appropriate given their abilities and skills. When general education classes and special education classes are combined, the students in either group are able to learn from one another, honing their abilities to collaborate with individuals of diverse skill sets and learning basic principles of tolerance and acceptance.
However, there are many who contend that students with special needs are deserving of special attention; because their mental or physical capabilities are so different from traditional students, they need the one-on-one attention that only the special education classroom can provide. Mainstreaming them, it is argued, will detract from this personalized attention, and thus, from their overall educational growth and development.
The most accurate response to these arguments can be found in the true principles of mainstreaming. In such a practice, students are not just removed from the special education classroom and placed with general education instructors. To the contrary, students are wholly assessed to determine when, if at all, they are capable of working within the general education classroom. Some students may only be mainstreamed in such subject areas as music and home economics; some may be mainstreamed in mathematics or physical education. By gauging a student’s ability to work in the same environment as their non-disabled peers, mainstreaming ensures that the classroom environment is wholly beneficial to all students, providing those with special needs the one-on-one attention they require in some areas and allowing them the opportunity to integrate with their peers in others.