Integration: Social Justice for Teachers

Year: 1995

Author: Whiting, Maureen, Young, Janelle

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The demand for social justice in education, particularly on behalf of exceptional children, has gathered momentum in the latter half of this century. Many children with disabilities have, over the past decade, been integrated into regular school settings. This trend for a more inclusive education has occurred throughout Australia in both State and Independent schools. An initiative such as integration has far reaching implications for many stakeholders.

Research in this area is significant, in that there is an acknowledged discrepancy between the ideal and the reality of integration as it is currently being practised. In order to avoid the wastage of teachers as a result of stress and `burn-out' there is an immediate need to find ways to close the gap in order to promote social justice for teachers as well as children in integration situations.

This paper presents the findings of a qualitative study of the integration of an exceptional child with Down Syndrome into a regular Catholic primary school. In investigating the demands made on the teachers in this situation, the researcher attempted to discover their needs in the areas of personal, professional development and support.

The data revealed that there were greatly increased demands placed on the teachers of exceptional children and that their personal and professional needs were significant. The study concluded that it is only with adequate professional, financial support and moral support of the entire school community, that justice for teachers of exceptional children in integrated classrooms is both done and seen to be done.