About twelve percent of the student population is diagnosed with learning disabilities, and the majority of these students are placed in regular, non-specialized educational schools (Roewenthall 2). Many consider this to be a problem and a highly important issue. Should children with learning disabilities be able to participate in a school classroom where the majority of the students are without disabilities and at a higher learning level? Are the teachers prepared and trained to teach children with specialized learning problems? Many believe this creates a problem for the other students who are not affected by the disorder, as well as the child with the disorder not receiving a proper specialized education.
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Research has shown that children with learning disabilities progress at slower levels and require specialized attention and teaching methods in order to obtain a complete education ( Roewenthall 16). If a child does not receive this particular notice, then they are unable to learn to the fullest extent of their masked ability. The students with the learning disorder then fall behind, feeling inadequate and inferior to their fellow classmates. This can cause a number of serious problems for the student as well as the rest of the class.
For one, having the disorder will cause the student to develop chronic social and emotional disorders as a result from being at a slower level and feeling “left out”. Robert Brooks has done a great deal of research on this issue.
In conducting therapy with these youths, I became increasingly aware that most were burdened by feelings of low self-worth and incompetence and that many believed that their situation would not improve. Not surprisingly, this sense of hopelessness served as a major obstacle to future success. Once children believe that things will not improve, they are likely to engage in self-defeating ways of coping such as quitting or avoiding tasks, blaming others for their difficulties, or becoming class clowns or bullies. Thus, a negative cycle is often set in motion, intensifying feelings of defeat and despair.
As a result of the students’ lack of confidence and self-esteem, this student can cause possible distractions in the classroom. The disabled student’s inability to grasp the concepts of the studies might distract the other students, causing them to fall behind in their studies as well. It is important how each student is approached and valued in the classroom. Children that feel that their opinion has worth, that are liked by teacher and peers, and are challenged academically will excel in any classroom, regardless if they are affected by a learning disorder (Brooks). But a child that is ridiculed, or singled out because of their inability to comprehend or perform at a level compatible to the rest of the class, will not have a positive school experience and possibly prevent others from receiving this positive experience as well. Another problem that faces students with learning disabilities being placed in regular educational schools, is whether or not the teacher is qualified to handle the students specified needs. The majority of teachers teaching in regular educational schools are not trained and educated on how to teach children with learning disorders because they did not receive a degree in special education ( Brooks 11). On that note, is it truly fair to the student with the disorder to be educated by someone not specified in that field of education?
Both of these problems pose challenges that need solutions. What can be done to enable the proper education to children with learning disorders, and at the same time ensure that the rest of the students, not affected by the disorder, are receiving the proper education as well?
One solution could be to divide the class according to the different learning levels of every individual student. Students that learn on a slower level and are affected by learning disabilities can be grouped and taught by a teacher specializing in the education of students with learning disorders. The remainder of the class would be grouped and taught by a regular teacher. Each individual would feel more comfortable in his or her group, enabling that individual to develop confidence in themself. However, as ideal as this solution would be, each school would have to hire an extra teacher per grade and would be entirely too costly for that schools budget. The demand for teachers would be too great to be met. Also, the slower learning group might be farther behind the other regular paced group, causing obvious distinctions between the class, making it difficult for the class to move on to the next grade level as a whole. Another solution would be for every school to require each teacher to attend a series of workshops on how to teach students with learning disorders. Teachers are an essential link between children with learning disabilities and the interventions and services that can help them. There is no student with a learning disability who can not learn, if a teacher has received appropriate training and is willing to spend the time, using his or her expertise to reach and teach that child (Dixie). Workshops specializing in learning disabilities would certify that each teacher is completely trained and prepared on how to handle children with learning disorders, while at the same time teach the rest of the class on a regular level. Each teacher would have to commit to attending these workshops as well as truly wanting to get something out of them. This would be a somewhat successful solution depending on the school truly enforcing it and the teachers’ commitment. For some schools it might be financially unrealistic to send every teacher to an annual workshop, but for other schools might very well be accomplished.
The most realistic solution leads back to the students parents. It is necessary for the parent of a student with a learning disorder to get involved with the school and develop a relationship with their child’s teacher. Meeting regularly to discuss the child’s improvements or lack there of, what needs to be done, and specific goals to be reached with that child is imperative. Also, it would be beneficial for the parent to educate the teacher on the child’s specific learning disorder and what to expect and be prepared for with that child. The parent and the teacher must work together to achieve full success with that child. If the teacher commits themself to helping the disabled student with their needs, then the whole atmosphere of the classroom will be affected positively. Contrary to what many believe, children with learning disorders are typically of average or in some instances above average intelligence (Roewenthall 22). Therefore, as long as given the appropriate amount of attention, students with learning disorders can learn as affectively as others. With the teacher and the parents communicating on a regular basis, parents can express their concerns and suggestions for the child and the teacher can do the same for the parents. Thus inevitably causing all distractions and problems affecting the other students to cease.
Whether hiring more teachers, requiring workshops, or developing effective parent/ teacher relationships, something must be done to assure students a proper education. As more and more children are being diagnosed with learning disabilities, measures must be taken to guarantee that the educational system does not suffer and fail as a result. Parents and teachers are a child’s greatest advocate and influence and when working together can enable a proper education for that child whether effected by a learning disorder or not.
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