04 SES 13 A, What is Special? Implications and Case Studies From a Review of 55 Countries
The background survey of 55 countries showed that education systems throughout the world recognise ‘special educational needs’ and offer some form of special education provision. Such provision differs in nature and is underpinned by beliefs about teaching and learning, societal expectations, and assumptions about what is viable in particular contexts. Furthermore, this is a debate about the nature of ‘special teaching’ and whether this is the same or different from ‘inclusive teaching’ (Lewis and Norwich, 2005; Florian and Black-Hawkins 2011). This paper will explore understandings of ‘special pedagogy’ and ‘special teaching’ as identified by case study visits to three countries (Italy, Japan and Norway) which each conceptualises special education differently. It will consider the way in which such understandings are commonly shaped by factors which could be termed ‘non-educational’ (such as working conditions, national expectations) and whether changes in contextual parameters could change teachers’ assumptions about the facilitation of learning for all in their classrooms not only to render schools more inclusive but also to ensure the more effective and efficient use of available resources.
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