Inclusive Education of Learners with Disability – The Theory versus Reality

by Zenon Gajdzica (Author) Robin McWilliam (Author) Miloň Potměšil (Author) Guo Ling (Author)
©2020 Monographs 206 Pages


Many factors have impact on the development of inclusive education, including social, cultural, economic context and the advancement of educational sciences. Analysing and comparing these issues provides a basis for understanding the problems of inclusion of learners with disabilities in mainstream education. The book familiarises readers with the historical and cultural conditions for the development of inclusive education. It presents concepts and everyday practices (financing, preparation of teachers and institutions). The book also takes a challenge to discuss the development prospects of inclusive education. The structure of the book allows for comparing the situation of learners with disability and the structural solutions of inclusive education in the countries of the study.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Preface
  • Chapter I Inclusive education of learners with disability in Polish experiences
  • 1.1. Theoretical foundations of inclusive education
  • 1.1.1. Historical outline of education for learners with disability in Poland
  • 1.1.2. Polish concepts of inclusive education
  • 1.1.3. Cultural determinants of inclusive education
  • 1.2. Inclusive education in practice
  • 1.2.1. Organization of inclusive education
  • 1.2.2. Financing the education of learners with disabilities
  • 1.2.3. Competences and qualifications of teachers in inclusive education
  • 1.2.4. Principles of work in the inclusive class
  • 1.2.5. Barriers to the development of inclusive education
  • 1.2.6. Developmental prospects of inclusive education
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter 2 Inclusive education of learners with disability in the United States of America
  • Introduction
  • Competing Values
  • American societal values of self-determination and independence
  • American cultural values of equity and fairness
  • Reject monarchy
  • Home for religious tolerance
  • ADA and IDEA
  • 2.1. Theoretical foundations of inclusive education
  • 2.1.1. Historical outline of education for disabled learners in the USA
  • The early history
  • Building support for inclusion
  • Reservations about inclusion
  • Research related to inclusion and program effectiveness
  • Teacher attitudes towards inclusion
  • The adolescence of inclusive practices
  • Curriculum-based measurement
  • Classroom instruction in inclusive settings
  • Inclusion in secondary schools
  • Inclusive education and students with severe disabilities
  • 2.1.2. Major approaches to inclusive education
  • 2.1.3. Cultural determinants of inclusive education
  • 2.2. Inclusive education in practice
  • 2.2.1. Organization of inclusive education
  • 2.2.2. Financing inclusive education
  • 2.2.3. Competencies and qualifications of inclusive education teachers
  • 2.2.4. What happens in an inclusive class
  • 2.2.5. Barriers to the development of inclusive education
  • 2.2.6. The future of inclusive education
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter 3 Inclusive education in the Czech Republic
  • 3.1 Theoretical foundations of inclusive education
  • Terminology
  • Historical background of education for the disabled in the Czech National Conception
  • 3.2. Inclusive education in practice in the Czech Republic (2018)
  • The educational system in the Czech Republic
  • State education in the Czech Republic
  • Pre-primary education
  • Primary school
  • Secondary schools
  • Tertiary education
  • Inclusive education
  • Supportive measures – level I
  • Supportive measures – levels II–V
  • School advisory facilities and their role in inclusive education
  • Education of talented learners
  • Individual educational plan
  • The current quantification indicators of education in the Czech Republic
  • Primary education
  • Secondary education
  • Disabled learners from the perspective of classmates without disability
  • Introduction
  • Attitudes and adolescents
  • Characterization of the target group
  • Methodology of data collection and processing
  • Research sample and its characterization
  • Conclusions
  • Recommendations for school practice
  • Sentiments, attitudes and concerns of teaching staff in regard to inclusive education
  • Introduction
  • Methodology of data collection and processing
  • The research sample and its composition
  • Analysis and processing of research data
  • Age of respondents
  • Education of respondents
  • Respondents’ occupation
  • Contact with disabled people
  • The perception of respondents’ professional readiness
  • Awareness of the legislative background concerning the upbringing and education of disabled learners
  • Confidence in educating disabled learners
  • Perception of experience with education of disabled learners
  • Awareness of the opportunities to get professional help
  • Statistical analysis of the collected data
  • Factor Analysis
  • Correlation of scales with variables
  • Sources influencing participants’ opinions, concerns and attitudes
  • Conclusion
  • Factor Analysis
  • Inclusive education in the Czech Republic: conclusions
  • References
  • Chapter 4 Inclusive education of learners with disability in China
  • Introduction
  • 4.1. Theoretical foundations of inclusive education
  • 4.1.1. Historical outline of education for disabled learners in China
  • Historical background of education for learners with disabilities
  • Corresponding stages of education for learners with disabilities
  • The preparation phase: the sprout of ancient thought about special education
  • The formation phase: the emergence of modern special education schools
  • The vigorous growth phase: the establishment of modern special education system
  • 4.1.2. Concepts of inclusive education in China
  • Understanding of inclusive education in China
  • Understanding of inclusion
  • Understanding of inclusive education
  • Relations between inclusive education, special education and general education
  • 4.1.3. Learning in Regular Class (LRC) – the Chinese form of inclusive education
  • 4.1.4. Cultural determinants of LRC
  • Moral ideas of Confucianism
  • Value orientations of pragmatism
  • 4.2. Inclusive education in practice
  • 4.2.1. Development of LRC
  • 4.2.2. Organization of LRC
  • 4.2.3. Eligibility for LRC
  • 4.2.4. Admission to LRC
  • 4.2.5. Management of LRC
  • The responsibilities of general school in the practice of LRC
  • The responsibilities of special education resource centre in the practice of LRC
  • The responsibilities of special education school in the practice of LRC
  • 4.2.6. Combined regular and special curriculum for LRC learners
  • 4.2.7. Financial mechanisms of LRC
  • Financial input for special education
  • Financial input for LRC
  • 4.2.8. Competences and qualifications of inclusive education teachers
  • Qualification for LRC teachers
  • Qualification for resource room teachers
  • Qualification for itinerant teachers
  • 4.2.9. Barriers to the development of inclusive education
  • Exam-oriented value of education in China
  • Contradictory attitudes to inclusive education
  • Imperfect policy and regulations from government
  • Lack of funding guarantee
  • Shortage of qualified LRC teachers
  • 4.2.10. Developmental prospects of inclusive education
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Name Index
  • Series index

←10 | 11→


The notion of inclusive education is applied to educational processes with ambiguity, vagueness, and controversy. As a consequence, it is often used in various connotations which provide it with the meaning of: a scientific theory, a concept of educational transformations, an ideology, a model of education, a methodological concept, organizational work, a set of educational conditions, occurring processes or even of a paradigm. In scientific debates, inclusion is located near educational integration; as regards its contents – it is associated with equality, acceptance, and normalization; it is opposed to: exclusion, marginalization, rejection, depreciation. The diversified approach to inclusion in the theory of social sciences is determined by many factors. Among them, the major ones are sociocultural determinants and those associated with the development of educational sciences. Therefore, it should not be surprising that the process of developing social and educational inclusion differs significantly in many countries. This results in a variety of diverse practices aimed at the development of inclusive culture at school and in the environments which surround it. What might serve as a simple example is the influence of the multicultural environment on the development and the essence of the way in which inclusion is understood. In multicultural environments, it is a natural result of culturally diversified experiences of learners, their parents and teachers – their attitude to traditions, customs, beliefs. They constitute a specific habitus of the recognized values, norms, aspirations, and attitudes towards the surrounding reality. In these environments, the functional limitation resulting from disability is one of many differentiating factors and disability itself is more frequently treated as a product of social interactions. Due to this, teachers and learners can be more easily convinced to view disability in a relative way. In the environments with smaller cultural diversity, disability is a more distinctly differentiating property. In such environments, the culture of inclusion must take a longer route and make bigger effort to overcome the focus on disability in the medical and functional dimension.

←11 | 12→

What has due significance are historical experiences of the whole nations (such as Holocaust or apartheid) and the concept of education for the humanistic values of equality, respect for unlikeness, justice, which has been built to a smaller or larger extent on these experiences. The culture of inclusion is also largely influenced by political processes. In politics, the domination of extreme right-wing views, which glorify the significance of race and origin and induce fear of otherness, does not enhance educational inclusion.

The diversified perception and advancement of inclusion has its sources also in the development of educational science, particularly special education. The deeply rooted practices of separated school undermine the development of inclusive culture. As a result, school inclusion is often treated as a development and evolution of special education – as its reconstruction. However, in the cultures with weaker traditions of separated education, it is easier to shape inclusive environments based on the deconstruction of special education.

These are just a few selected examples which illustrate what different ways inclusion has to take in particular cultures and countries. This book is aimed at presenting these determinants and the resulting practices of inclusive education in four countries which, in many respects, differ from each other: Poland, the United States, the Czech Republic, and China.

←12 | 13→

Zenon Gajdzica

Chapter I Inclusive education of learners with
disability in Polish experiences

1.1. Theoretical foundations of inclusive education

1.1.1.   Historical outline of education for learners with disability in Poland

The development of special education for learners with disability in Poland has taken place in a way typical of Central European countries. It has been related to social, cultural and economic changes. However, certain specificity of Polish educational transformations should be emphasized here as well. Among other things, the changes have been associated with: the specific hermetization determined by a long period of Poland’s functioning within the socialist block, strong influences of the Church on social life and still relatively unchanging monoculturalism, which plays a significant role not only in shaping the attitudes to the Other but also in creating the culture of inclusive education.

The interrelation between educational transformations and sociocultural changes is undisputable. This dependence can be also seen in the transformations in the basic assumptions of both education of the disabled and the conceptualization of the system of special education. With certain generalization, four basic fields of transformations affecting the shape of education for the disabled can be indicated:

evolution of social attitudes towards people with disability;

legal changes;

development of institutions aimed at care, education and rehabilitation of the disabled;

scientific advancement (especially of special education, psychology, medicine, sociology, social anthropology) which determines the change of views on the essence of disability.

←13 | 14→

Each of these factors has been of crucial significance in transforming and revaluing the views on the educational needs of the discussed group of learners.

What can become a starting point for a short description of these factors is the changing social attitude to the disabled. It is this change which has determined other transformations in the field of law and school education. The changes in social attitudes to the disabled have not basically differed from the changes taking place in other European countries. The Middle Ages were known for the use of rigorous educational methods. Literature provides many descriptions concerning cruel treatment of people with disturbed development to the point of regarding them as social burden. The opinions promoting the need of care for the disabled started in the 14th century. This can be confirmed by the Wiślica Statute of 1347, in which disabled people were defended. Slightly later, the first attempts at taking care for the disabled were made. This was usually done in the form of alms-houses run by monks. In the 17th century, the first care houses appeared, sometimes also conducted by landowners and farmers’ groups. Until the mid-19th century, the needs of disabled people were identified only with care. Since that period, the needs pertaining to education have been focused on as well (Balcerek, 1981; Doroszewska, 1989; Wyczesany, 2005; Gajdzica, Franiok, 2013).

Alongside the popularization of elementary education, the problem of disabled children became more visible. They could not manage in the widely accessible form of education. Therefore, special schools for them were organized. The first such school for learners with mild intellectual disability was founded in Poznań in 1896. In the early 20th century, such institutions were established in many big towns. After the Second World War, the number of special schools substantially increased. This was also a result of the intensive development of theoretical and methodological foundations of work with this group of learners. The tasks in this field were fulfilled by the workers of the National Institute of Special Pedagogy, founded by Maria Grzegorzewska in Warsaw in 1922 (Pilecka, Pilecki, 2002). The First Polish Congress of Special Education Teachers took place in 1925 and the act on the system of education in Poland was issued in 1932. It comprised the statement that education of “not normal” children should be conducted in institutions, mainstream schools, special ←14 | 15→schools and special classes. Before the Second World War, there were only primary schools for disabled children in Poland. In fact, there were neither vocational schools preparing for work nor institutions for children with more profound disability. Thus, after the Second World War, special school education developed on the basis of primary school. In the 1950s, the number of special primary schools tripled and vocational education developed simultaneously. In subsequent years, “schools of life” started to be founded for learners with moderate and profound intellectual disability (earlier they did not attend schools at all) as well as special kindergartens. Since 1994, school obligation has comprised children with profound mental disability. Nowadays, they most frequently attend classes conducted in educational-therapeutic groups (Dziedzic, 1977; Balcerek, 1981; Wyczesany, 2005; Gajdzica, Franiok, 2013).

The social transformations initiated in Poland at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s drew more attention to integrating tendencies. In the Polish tradition (both in science and practical activities), integrated education is distinctly differentiated from inclusive education. The concept of integrated education introduced into the Polish system of education has been borrowed from Germany, where it is sometimes referred to as the Hamburg model. Its characteristic features are: two teachers in a class (early education/subject teacher and special education teacher), 3–5 learners with disability in a class, not more than 20 learners in a class, implementation of all lessons in the common, shared space.

In the early 1990s, integrated education comprised a statistically small group of disabled learners. Currently, the significance of this form of education has largely increased in Poland. However, learners with profound or multiple disability still mostly attend special schools (Apanel, 2016).


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2021 (January)
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2020. 206 pp., 7 fig. b/w, 23 tables.

Biographical notes

Zenon Gajdzica (Author) Robin McWilliam (Author) Miloň Potměšil (Author) Guo Ling (Author)

Zenon Gajdzica, a professor of social sciences at the University of Silesia, Poland, member of the Committee on Education Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Robin McWilliam, a professor of special education at the University of Alabama, USA, developed the Routines-Based Model of Early Intervention Birth to Five. Miloň Potměšil, a professor of special pedagogy at Palacky University, the Czech Republic and Sichuan Normal University, China. Guo Ling, Ph.D., a lecturer at Leshan Normal University, China.


Title: Inclusive Education of Learners with Disability – The Theory versus Reality
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
book preview page numper 32
book preview page numper 33
book preview page numper 34
book preview page numper 35
book preview page numper 36
book preview page numper 37
book preview page numper 38
book preview page numper 39
book preview page numper 40
208 pages