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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Fundamental Assumptions

As Special Education is founded on the biological scientific model the assumptions carried by professionals are aligned with a biological / medical model of production. The doctors, who ran the institutions, defined the best procedures to serve (cure) the "patients". Following world war I & II the newly skilled doctors returned with a zeal to carry on what they learned curing the wounded. The result was a strong, assumption creating,  foundation for Special Education and rehabilitation. A minority force, social rehabilitationists, saw the environment as in need of repair and advocated for such improvements as public awareness and environmental accessibility (a robust component of this group are made up of conscientious objectors serving in institutions---watch for future blog). The resulting set of beliefs, assumptions and scientific ideals was a biological model with social agendas. This model is the core of the Special Education field today and represents the core of the problems. 

When PL 94-142 was passed in 1975 improvement was generated not toward new models and ways of knowing. Improvement was generated within the narrow confines of the biological model. In some ways the new law cemented a set of assumptions and beliefs that have become an unconscious battle cry for well educated and skilled practitioners. When these assumptions are articulated and challenged as assumptions and not personal identifiers (professionals may declare; "this is who I am") true progress will be available. Just what are these well established assumptions that are now held as truths?

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