Support and Resistance : Ambivalence in Special Education
Abstract: Support and Resistance discusses the interaction between pupils of different abilities and the school organisation. The dissertation has its point of departure in the views of pupils, both those with special support and their classmates. It outlines how school is – and how it should be – in the views of schoolchildren. The results show that the presence in a class of a child with disability correlates with better class climate. Contradictions between goals and values in the educational system are supposedly solved with a compartmentalisation of goals and values, in which the differentiated settings take more responsibility for the goals of socialisation and democratic participation, while the regular settings concentrate on the goals of selection and achievement. This tends to be unsatisfactory, however. The theoretical framework of the dissertation relates to concepts from the fields of sociology, group psychology, psychoanalysis, the history of ideas and the history of education. The empirical studies concern pupils’ self-concept, their perceptions of class climate and school in relation to organisational aspects of learning settings such as homogeneity/heterogeneity, the special support offered at school, the presence of differentiated settings and the opportunity of participation. These studies are based upon questionnaires and texts written by children in comprehensive schools, and on interviews and observations of educational settings. The results and their implications are related to the goals of socialisation, democratic education and social participation. This work is of interest to educators, school administrators, policy-makers and scholars in the fields of education, special education and disability research.
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