When Alice Bender started teaching as a 20-year-old in 1969, two of the students in her special education class at Richelieu Valley High School were older than she was.
She dealt with “everything” in her classroom – mentally handicapped students, bright kids with learning disabilities, teens with behavioural problems.
“Whoever didn’t fit was just thrown into that class,” said Bender, who retired as a principal in 2003.
As a novice teacher, Bender didn’t have all the answers, but said she believed there had to be a better way to teach students with special needs. “And to me, it wasn’t by putting them apart.”
“They hung around together, they caused problems. They were in the crappy part of the school,” Bender said.
The way Quebec schools educate students with special needs is far removed from that era. But the current approach, which favours integrating them in regular classes, still causes plenty of friction – so much so that it’s going under the microscope.
Read more here: Classroom dilemma: ‘special’ kids.
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