Special Education as Theory and Praxis

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					Special Education as Theory and Praxis, 2007-05-14       1
Matts Mattsson, Ph D,

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Special Education as Theory and Praxis

Matts Mattsson, Ph D
Stockholm Institute of Education
Department of Human Development, Learning and Special Education
P.O. Box 34103, S-100 26 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: +46 8 737 96 37

This Research and Development project (R&D-project) will explore Special Education in terms of
theory and in terms of a professional practice. What kind of knowledge is important in teacher training
and what seems to be important to experienced teachers. In a small study, Part Nr 1, we have
analysed examination papers written by students attending a compulsory course on special education
(Mattsson, 2006). We found that they are occupied with concepts of "inclusion" and "exclusion".
Further more, they discuss the roles and attitudes of teachers as if theory, concepts and knowledge
based on research will have the major impact on the professional practice. When we introduced our
preliminary findings to experienced teachers in a local community we got a different story. To them
“inclusive education” is not an important concept. In general, they seem to focus on individuals and
problems related to individuals. Further more, it seems as if they do not really know how to challenge
the structures that generate a lot of problems which excludes individuals.

A preliminary result is an outline of a typology reflecting different strategies for change (some focus on
the individual, others on process, yet others on structure). The typology now serves as a point of
departure for further investigations. A crucial problem and a challenge is how to find good ways of
researching professional practice. It calls for theoretical and methodological developments.

In Part Nr I of this study, the gap between academy and field is subject to an analysis where we try to
clarify the different epistemologies supporting different kinds of knowledge. We introduced two
strategies for achieving knowledge relevant to Special Education. One is the Plato idea of
enlightenment and the other is a praxis-related strategy inspired by Aristotle (2004) and researchers
like Lewin (1946), Freire (1973), Schön (1983) and Kemmis (2005). In Part Nr 2 of the study we will try
to develop the praxis-related strategy working together with students and practitioners. It is a
collaborative research project involving up till now ten students at Stockholm Institute of Education.

Our study is part or the international project Pedagogy, Education and Praxis involving universities in
Australia, the Netherlands and the Nordic Countries. Coordinator and chief investigator is professor
Stephen Kemmis at Charles Sturt University, Australia. As for Part Nr 3, final versions of our research
will be published in a series of books edited by Sense Publishers. In one of the edited volumes
comparisons will be made of Special Education and praxis development in the countries involved.

Keywords: Special Education, Theory and praxis, Enlightenment, Professionalism, Organizational
studies, Praxis development
Special Education as Theory and Praxis, 2007-05-14   2
Matts Mattsson, Ph D,

   Stockholm Institute of Education. Policy
   changes, curriculum changes, organisational
   changes. Changes in the field of practical action.
   Special education challenged. Part of an inter-
   national project.

   Research question
   What kind of knowledge is important in Special
   Education? In a discourse on theory and in a
   discourse on practical action? What about the
   mediating discourse?

   Part I (2005-2006)

    Focus on a compulsory course, special
     education, analysis of programs and documents
    34 examination papers (out of 519)
    Focus group interviews, 9 experienced
     teachers, narratives, critical incidents
    Communicative validity, collaborative research
   Part II (2006-2007)

    Collaborative research involving practitioners
     and up till now 10 students on advanced level
    Individual and focus group interviews, narra-
     tives, critical incidents, communicative validity
    document analysis, field work
Special Education as Theory and Praxis, 2007-05-14   3
Matts Mattsson, Ph D,

   Part III (2007-2008)

    The international project Pedagogy, Education
     and Praxis
    Comparative analysis (Australia, the Nether-
     lands, the Nordic Countries)

   Some preliminary results and reflections

    A gap between a discourse on theory and a
     discourse on practice. The gap should be
     recognized as a point of departure for under-
     standing and improving education and praxis
     (praxis development)

    A typology for understanding special education
     has been outlined, it should be further develop-
     ed. Flexibility on behalf of practitioners might
     be a consequence of a weak professional

    A crucial problem is how to study professional
     practice? How to make comparisons between
     special education in different contexts? This
     calls for theoretical and methodological
Special Education as Theory and Praxis, 2007-05-14   4
Matts Mattsson, Ph D,

                  discourse                              discourse
                  on theory                mediating     on practice

   Figur 1 A discourse on theory, a discourse on practice and a mediating discourse

   Plato                                                      Aristotle
Special Education as Theory and Praxis, 2007-05-14   5
Matts Mattsson, Ph D,

   A typology
   The tentative typology consists of nine strategies for change. In different ways and to
   different degrees these strategies underline that special education is an activity that
   should be performed in relation to or as a strategy for

                                                            Theory                 Praxis

   (1) Individuals

   (2) Groups

   (3) Organisations

   (4) Counselling

   (5) Collaboration

   (6) Experts

   (7) Empowerment

   (8) Animation

   (9) The               Reflective Practitioner
The problem of identifying strategies might be
caused by lack of professional identity?
Special Education as Theory and Praxis, 2007-05-14      6
Matts Mattsson, Ph D,

   To be more specific…

   1. A gap between theory and practice
   In Part Nr I, I discuss special education in terms of theory and in terms of a
   professional practice. I reflect upon the possibilities to develop a mediating discourse.
   Referring to Gustavsen (2001) I try to find out what kind of knowledge that seems to be
   of importance in a discourse on theory and what kind of knowledge that seems to be
   important a discourse on practical action. The mediating discourse may be regarded as a
   field overlapping these discourses.

                           discourse                         discourse on
                           on theory        mediating       practice

   Figur 1 A discourse on theory, a discourse on practice and a mediating discourse

   According to Gustavsen, researchers and practitioners can meet in a mediating discourse
   to reflect upon their different perspectives vis-à-vis an existing state of affairs. Since
   they come from different worlds of discourse, the outcome of such a meeting might be
   quite different for the researcher and the practitioner. He writes:
     What emerges out of the event is an improved capacity for developing ideas, pursuing
     them into action and generally creating a rich landscape of different institutions,
     organizations and activities that can enter into fruitful and complementary
     relationships to each other (p. 22).

   In our small study we have looked into the curriculum and program for special
   education at Stockholm Institute of Education. We have analysed 34 examination
   papers written by students in teacher training. The students were attending a compulsory
   course dealing with special education. We looked at their examination papers as if they
   could be taken as a discourse on theory. We used the outcome of the analysis as a point
   of departure to discuss the issue further with two groups of experienced teachers. They
   were all together nine teachers working with special education. Our idea was that by
   interviewing experienced teachers we would come close to a discourse on practical
   action (Mattsson, 2006).

   We found that the university curriculum, program and the students are occupied with a
   discussion where concepts like "inclusion" and "exclusion" are most important. They
Special Education as Theory and Praxis, 2007-05-14   7
Matts Mattsson, Ph D,

   favour the general idea that every one has equal rights to education. That is the law in
   Sweden and that is what is emphasised in the university program for special education.
   Further more; the students discuss special education as a professional activity related to
   many different aspects. Special education has to do with how to work face to face with
   individuals, how to organise the work and how to cope with the way education and
   institutions are structured. The students look into policies and politics. Generally they
   discuss the role and attitude of teachers as if theory, concepts and policy will have a
   major impact on how the professional practice is performed. The students seem to give
   high priority to theories, concepts and the way social life is conceived. Generally, they
   seem to believe that there is a rational relationship between intentions, knowledge and
   action. As if the intention and the proper knowledge is there before you act.

   Having identified the students´ conception of special education we introduced our
   preliminary findings to experienced teachers in a local community near the city of
   Stockholm. There we got a different story. Our interviews focused on critical incidents
   and examples that could be illustrative to special education as a practice. We asked
   them for examples reflecting important aspects of their professional practice. Analysing
   their stories we found that they do not discuss their work in terms of “inclusive
   education” and “exclusion”. They do not use these words. The different terminologies
   do not seem to be just a matter of language and communication. The reality of the
   practitioners seems to differ from the reality of the students. The reality of the
   practitioners seems to differ from how special education is understood in a discourse on
   theory. In general, the practitioners focus on problems related to individuals as if special
   education primarily is a face to face activity. Further more; in contrast to the university
   students, the practitioners think that parents and other collaborative agents are most
   important for solving problems in special education. It is also of interest to note that in
   the eyes of experienced teachers, special education seems to be quite a weak profession.
   It seems as if people in special education do not have the power and the self reliance to
   bring about a change. It seems as if they do not really know how to challenge the
   framework and the structure that generate a lot of the problems in the field of practice

   To start with, our study reveals a gap between a discourse on theory and a discourse on
   practical action. This is not a very astonishing observation. In a discourse on theory you
   will often find concepts which are strange to a discourse on practical action. This gap
   may be challenging and demanding. It may provoke new and important insights. This
   type of relation between research and social change might, referring to Weiss (1977), be
   called the model of enlightenment. The idea of enlightenment suggests that the
   enlightening theories and concepts originate from social science and research. In this
   model new knowledge is the result of friction and tensions between challenging theories
   and old established patterns of thinking and acting. The idea is that a professional
   practice will be challenged by stimulating ideas and consequently it will be forced to
   change in the direction of enlightened ideas.

   A different aspect of the model of enlightenment is that the gap might make it quite
   difficult for the students involved to achieve a profound understanding of the
   professional practice. In the examination papers, some of the students express contempt
   in relation to the work performed by experienced practitioners in special education. In
   the view of the students, the teachers do not behave and they do not reason the way they
   are expected to do. Thus, the gap between theory and practice might create a distance
   between students in teacher training and persons that might be their future colleagues in
Special Education as Theory and Praxis, 2007-05-14   8
Matts Mattsson, Ph D,

   the field of practice. The gap might be alienating. Alienation of this kind might be an
   obstacle for developing praxis knowledge in the field of special education.

   One conclusion of this study is that teacher training and educational research should be
   more praxis-related. It should be organised to give the students more of an insight into
   the professional practice, into praxis; that is into the situations, contexts, cultures and
   discourses that to a great extent form this practice. The professional practice should be
   used as a point of departure for research and for teacher training.

   In a Plato inspired university tradition there is a focus on theories and concepts as if
   context and professional practice are “governed” by theories and ideas (Russell, 1991;
   Toulmin & Gustavsen, 1996). It is an idealistic approach. The general idea seems to be
   that what takes place on the field of practice is the outcome of good thinking, as if
   concepts are more important than the practice performed; more important than praxis to
   be conceived.

   2. A Typology
   In order to compare different ways of understanding special education I have outlined a
   typology. It is based on general knowledge of roles and strategies in social work and
   special education (Mattsson, 1986). It also draws on similar typologies outlined by
   Ström (1999); Malmgren Hansen (2002); Sahlin (2004) and Bladini (2004). In the
   present study the idea was to compare the students´ views of special education to nine
   types of approaches. Similarly I have tried to relate, to the same typology, the outcome
   of critical incidents and examples given by experienced teacher.

   The tentative typology consists of nine strategies for change. In different ways and to
   different degrees these strategies underline that special education is an activity that
   should be performed
   (1) in relation to individual pupils
   (2) in relation to groups of pupils
   (3) in relation to the organisations and structures
   (4) in relation to the process of counselling
   (5) as a collaborative work between all actors involved
   (6) as a task for experts
   (7) as a strategy for empowerment
   (8) as strategy for animation and
   (9) as a reflective professional practice.

   The different roles and strategies may be understood in relation to different traditions,
   cultures and theories. They are associated with different ideas of how people in special
   education think that they can bring about change. Different epistemologies and
   discourses support different kinds of knowledge. The typology outlined here, also
   represent different ways of achieving knowledge relevant to special education. In this
   study there is a focus on the professional role and the strategies applied by practitioners:
   What do they do and how do they think in order to bring about a change. What are they
   trying to change?

   Here I will elaborate this typology.
Special Education as Theory and Praxis, 2007-05-14   9
Matts Mattsson, Ph D,

   1. Focus on the individual pupil
   To a great extent, practitioners in the field of special education, focus on the individual
   pupil. The idea often seems to be that, by doing so they will strengthen the sense of
   “subject” of the pupil, the individual “I”. Some people say that a major problem is that
   some individuals are fragile; they have a weak sense of “I”; they lack a “motor”; they do
   not have the “spirit” which would “make them go”. As a consequence the special
   educator approaches the individual as if what is the most important element is the
   relationship between the educator and the pupil. The essential aspect of special
   education is what is done by the practitioner in relation to the pupil. Drawing on general
   experiences and knowledge of human beings and on their own empathy, the teacher
   tries to awaken the inner strength and spirit of the pupil to bring about a change inside
   the individual. This strategy is rooted in a Christian tradition. It resembles the old type
   of special educator (speciallärare) who was trained to compensate lack of resources in
   individuals. In a historical perspective this strategy often has had as a consequence that
   individuals are excluded from the majority group. Pupils in need of extra support are
   often given the extra support - excluded from the larger group.

   In our study students describe various types of individual problems. They describe them
   as deficiencies and shortcomings on part of the pupils which must be taken care of by
   the teacher: Difficulties to read and to write, difficulties to concentrate, learning
   difficulties. The pupils are sometimes regarded as trouble makers. Some pupils have
   been object for medical diagnosis like dyslexia and ADHD. Some pupils have physical
   impairments and motor disabilities.

   The general purpose of this kind of practice is to compensate the individual for
   deficiencies, to help and to change individuals who in one way or the other are different
   from the majority of individuals. One of the experienced teachers in our study says that:
     “…as teachers we have a focus on individual pupils when we form a program for
     intervention…” and that the school culture is “very oriented towards individuals”.

   She suggests that the general focus on the individual pupil is not a result of a free choice
   made by the actors involved. The approach focusing on the individual pupil may be an
   integrated part of the history, tradition and character of the field of practice. It might be
   dependant on culture, context and predominant discourses.

   2. Focus on the group
   An alternative strategy in special education has a focus on the group. The idea is to
   strengthen the group and the solidarity among members of the group. Their solidarity
   should include pupils that are odd and marginalized. In a well working group of pupils
   the participants care for each other. The variety of individuals is regarded as a resource.
   The task of the practitioner is to encourage and to strengthen relations of solidarity; it is
   an indirect approach. The practitioner acts through the group. The focus and the
   attention concerns group processes. This strategy could be called “social pedagogy”
   (Eriksson, Hermansson, Münger, 2004). Another international keyword for a similar
   strategy is “empowerment”. In their course literature students learn about this strategy.
   But in their examination papers there is no report of such an approach, they could not
   identify it in the field of practice. The same observation is relevant for the experienced
   teachers which we interviewed. They did not give any report of social pedagogy,
   empowerment or a group oriented strategy like this type.
Special Education as Theory and Praxis, 2007-05-14   10
Matts Mattsson, Ph D,

   3. Focus on structure
   Another strategy in special education has a focus on structure and organization. In their
   examination papers students discuss this strategy as “a school for each and everyone”.
   They talk about “inclusive education”. This is an ideology, an approach and a strategy
   for change in which the pedagogue serves as a representative (“ombudsman”) for “the
   good community”. He or she is an advocate for equality, justice, care and inclusion. The
   task is to support all work that goes in that direction. All teachers should be involved,
   that is, all teachers should in some way be participants in the special education practice.
   The role of an ombudsman and agent of change requires a lot of insight and talents; it
   requires efforts on all organisational levels; it is a work related to individuals, groups,
   organizations, structures and society at large. The work is not exclusively focused on
   structure, but there is an emphasis on organisation and structure. There are tasks dealing
   with curriculum and programs, documentations, evaluations, systems for intervention
   and counselling. According to the Governmental proposition “En förnyad
   lärarutbildning” (prop 1999/2000), a special educator should have a position very close
   to the headmaster and the people in charge of a school.

   In their examination papers it is obvious that the students favour this approach. At the
   same time they find in impossible to practice. None of the schools they have come
   across seem to have realised this strategy. Analysing the examples given by the
   experienced practitioners in the field of special education it seems as if the idea “a
   school for each and everyone” is beyond their reach and scope. They seem to be aware
   of the impact of structure for example when it comes to allotting marks for educational
   and cognitive achievements. It seems as if they can not challenge the structure. One
   teacher said:
     We talk about achievements … there is a focus on learning outcomes… we are
     expected to judge if someone is to be approved or not, if a pupil has been successful
     in school or not. This attitude affects our approach to these pupils and our approach
     affects their identity. I think that it is a dilemma working with pupils we know will
     never reach the cognitive goals. We know that they will grow and develop in many
     other aspects, they have other talents… But our task is to focus on learning

   Here it seems as if the structure and institutional setting counteracts the work required
   by professionals in special education.

   4. Supervising, tutoring, counselling
   Special education sometimes have a focus on supporting other teachers´ attempts to do a
   professional work. In this perspective special education is a kind of pedagogy required
   for solving exceptional problems. It is an indirect approach. The role is to be a
   supervisor or a tutor in relation to colleagues. There is a focus on relations and
   processes. Sometimes the task is described in terms of creating and managing a
   “qualified dialogue”. This strategy is more or less absent in the examination papers.
   When a student writes about it, the role of a counsellor seems to lack legitimacy among
   other teachers. One student writes:
     Sometimes the special educator comes to the school to observe and to give advice,
     telling the teacher what she observes and what could be done in various situations.
     The teachers do not appreciate this kind of “support”. They think that the special
Special Education as Theory and Praxis, 2007-05-14   11
Matts Mattsson, Ph D,

      educator, observing only a certain situation, has too limited a scope for giving

   Some of the experienced practitioners in our study describe their own role as supportive
   in relation to the teachers. They say that they support teachers in dealing with problems
   related to individual pupils. At the same time it seems as if they recognize the negative
   attitude from teachers in relation to the role of a counsellor or a mentor. Teachers in
   general would rather have somebody taking care of problematic children than giving
   them advice on how to do their job.

   5. A collaborative work
   Special education may be performed as a collaborative work between several actors
   involved. This role of a special educator means that he or she tries to facilitate
   communication and cooperation between other professionals and groups. The purpose is
   to achieve something worthwhile for pupils requiring assistance and care.

   In a doctoral thesis about diagnosis, the conclusion is that communication and
   cooperation in schools are more important elements for the well being of pupils than are
   diagnosis. The author, (Jakobsson, 2002) emphasises the importance of cooperation
   especially between the schools and the pupils´ parents. The strategy of collaboration
   resembles the strategy described earlier on as focus on structure. The idea is to identify
   and to support all persons and resources available to special education. The talent
   required by a special educator in this approach is to mobilise people.

   This strategy is hard to find reading examination papers produced by the students in
   teacher training. Among the experienced practitioners from the local community,
   however, this approach seems to be important. They stress that knowledge about
   collaboration, communication, cooperation and networking should be given a high
   priority in teacher training. It is a professional role in special education that requires
   flexibility; you have to know the school, the organisation, the persons and the culture.

   6. The expert
   Special education sometimes means that you should serve as an expert. Often the
   expertise has to do with knowledge about certain impairments or certain diagnosis. It
   may relate to sight and hearing, ability to speak, move, understand, concentrate, feel and
   communicate. Internationally and in Sweden there is a strong tradition of a medical,
   psychological and a compensatory approach. An expert knows how to identify what is
   not normal. In this tradition there is a focus on the individual. The idea is that the
   individual should be the object for measures, diagnosis and interventions.

   In the examination papers written by the students the expert strategy is more or less
   absent. One reason might be that the students in this course did not really meet pupils in
   situations where experts intervene, and that is why they did not meet experts. However,
   the students often talk about learning difficulties as a problem in the field of special
   education. In our study experienced teachers refer to the expert role as a dilemma. The
   dilemma was revealed in a story reflecting a critical incident. One special educator said:
     It happens now and then that parents have not understood or will not understand that
     their child has severe learning difficulties. As a special educator it is my duty to help
     the child. But how can I help when my I cannot persuade the parents to see their
     child the way I do?
Special Education as Theory and Praxis, 2007-05-14   12
Matts Mattsson, Ph D,

   She told us that in these situations it is very hard to tell the parents that what is best for
   the child. When the special educator acts as an expert trying to move the pupil to
   another group or to find another form of school for the pupil, the parents often disagree.
   The dilemma is that the expert role in these situations does not carry any weight, no
   authority, it has no legitimacy. The parents might suggest that the school and the
   teachers should improve their efforts to include their child in the ordinary group. And it
   seems as if such a proposal is beyond the scope and reach of many professionals in
   special education.

   7. Empowerment
   Empowerment is a key concept internationally. It refers to a strategy where someone
   tries to empower a group. I could for example be a practitioner in special education
   trying to empower pupils in order to bring about change. It is an approach where
   confrontations and conflicts might be necessary, where you might depend upon
   supportive opinions. You may use public media to favour your cause. Here you try to
   challenge repressive power structures. This strategy is often associated to civil society
   and voluntary organisations. Sometimes action research is involved. “Conscientizcâo” is
   a key concept (Freire, 1973). In this strategy you may refer to Marx, Dewey, Lewin and

   In the examination papers written by students, the strategy of empowerment is absent.
   That is the case also with the experienced teachers in this study. There seems to be a
   lack of power and a lack of scope for applying such a strategy for change. It seems as if
   students, as well as the experienced teachers can not see the possibilities to change
   power structures and traditions. It seems as if the field of special education is formed by
   other people and by circumstances beyond their control. The participants in our study
   seem to be part of a larger context, a structure out of their reach.

   8. Animation
   Quite close to the strategy of empowerment there is a strategy which could be called
   “animation”. Here you will find humour, improvisation, fantasy, music, art and drama
   (Boal, 1979). The role and strategy of an “animateur” is known in France. The task is to
   engage all creative and liberating resources that can be found among people involved in
   special education. A major difference, compared to all other strategies mentioned here,
   is that the “animateur” is not problem-oriented. The role requires a lot of self reliance on
   part of the actor; he or she should have a lot of imagination; he or she should know a lot
   of ways to communicate. It is a situated practice which takes place “in the face of
   uncertainty” (Kemmis, 2005).

   This strategy is hard to find in the examination papers written by the students. One of
   the experienced teachers, however, told a story reflecting her ability to change a certain
   situation by “tuning it upside down”. Among professionals working with pre school
   activities and day care centres this is probably a more frequent strategy, being more
   playful and creative than is often the case with ordinary schools focusing on cognitive

   9. The reflective practitioner
   Special education is not just a practice where you do things. It is also a field of
   knowledge and research. A field of knowledge may be developed systematically. That is
Special Education as Theory and Praxis, 2007-05-14   13
Matts Mattsson, Ph D,

   true also for production of knowledge in special education. Valuable knowledge may be
   produced through established forms of academic research. Professional knowledge and
   “practice knowledge” can also be developed from practice and praxis. There are several
   persons and concepts pointing in this direction: Dewey ( ) writes about “learning by
   doing”; Schön (1983) writes about “The Reflective Practitioner”; Kolb (1984) writes
   about “Experiential Learning” and Kemmis & Grotenboer (2006) writes about “praxis
   development” and “learning through experience”. In research literature you can find
   support for the role of a reflective practitioner.

   In our small study, however, it was hard to identify such a strategy in the papers written
   by students. Some of the experienced teachers told stories and gave examples which
   could be interpreted as supportive for the role of a reflective practitioner.

   3. Some tendencies and conclusions
   The tentative typology introduced here might serve as a tool for analysing special
   education. I have looked for special education as reflected in a discourse on theory and
   in a discourse on practical action. The typology may help us to compare how special
   education is comprehended by university students on one hand and by experienced
   practitioners on the other hand in different contexts and perhaps in different countries.
   To some extent there seems to be a common understanding. In some respects there are

   An important observation is that students as well as experienced practitioners seem to lack
   a range and scope for changing established power structures. I will look further for how
   roles and strategies are constructed. I will look further into what constitutes a profession
   and how a professional practice is formed? To what extent do the ideas and traditions have
   an impact? To what extent is a profession formed by history, tradition, organisation,
   context and situation. How can praxis and praxis development be identified? We would
   like to contribute to the international project Pedagogy, Education and Praxis, employing a
   conceptual framework introduced by Kemmis (2006).

   4. Work in progress

   Right now, in Part Nr 2, ten students are engaged in small studies that might contribute
   to the research project Special Education as Theory and Praxis. They look into
   different parts and aspects of the educational system. Some look for special education
   related to handicapped pupils, pupils with impairments, pupils that were born with a
   brain damage. Another student focuses on pupils with difficulties to read and write in
   order to see what is done by special pedagogues in this context. Some students focus on
   pupils with general learning difficulties. They try to understand the organisational
   context for special education in a local community. One student looks into special
   education and Montessori pedagogy to find similarities and differences. These studies
   will be reported in 2007 and the spring of 2008. I hope to be able to include their
   findings in Part Nr 3. The aim here is to explore further the roles and strategies for
   bringing about change in the field of special education. We will try to identify what
   kind of knowledge that seems to be of value in the field of special education. It is a
   Research and Development project where an important aspect is to help out in forming a
Special Education as Theory and Praxis, 2007-05-14    14
Matts Mattsson, Ph D,

   mediating discourse. In analysing the results we will employ a conceptual framework
   introduced by Kemmis (2006). Discussions have just started between a group of
   researchers from Australia (Wagga Wagga), the Netherlands (Amsterdam) and Sweden
   (Stockholm, Gothenburg).


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Special Education as Theory and Praxis, 2007-05-14   15
Matts Mattsson, Ph D,

Figure x   Academy, Profession, Identity (070514 Mattsson)



         Profession                                       Identity

       Market                                                 Civic society
Special Education as Theory and Praxis, 2007-05-14         16
Matts Mattsson, Ph D,

   We will explore what kind of knowledge that seems to be important to experienced practitioners in
   the field of special education. Thus we will contribute to the international project Pedagogy,
   Education and Praxis, employing a conceptual framework introduced by Kemmis (2006).

            Theoretical                Technical                 Practical perspective        Critical-emancipatory
            perspective                perspective                                            perspective
Telos (Aim) The attainment of          The production of   Wise and prudent                   Overcoming irrationality,
            knowledge or truth         something           judgement; acting rightly          injustice, suffering, felt
                                                           in the world                       dissatisfactions
Disposition     Episteme A            Techné A             Phronesis A moral                  Critical A disposition
                disposition to seek disposition to act in disposition to act wisely,          towards emancipation
                the truth for its own a true and reasoned truly and justly; goals             from irrationality,
                sake                  way according to the and means are both                 injustice, suffering, felt
                                      rules of a craft     always open to review              dissatisfactions
Example in      Studying              Learning knowledge Learning about the                   Community projects
teacher         philosophy of         (like theories of    nature, traditions and             aimed at developing
education       education with the learning, individual purposes of education as              understanding of
                aim of developing a differences,           a moral activity                   historical, discursive,
                personal theory of    motivation) and      intrinsically involved             social and material-
                education             skills to teach a    with the formation of              economic circumstances
                                      lesson, manage a     good persons and the               which constrain capacities
                                      class, assess        good for humankind                 for self-expression, self-
                                      learning                                                development and self-
Action          Theoria                Poietike ‘Making’         Praxis ‘Doing’ action,       Emancipatory Collective
                Contemplation,         action, involving         morally-informed action      reflection and action
                involving              means-ends or             oriented by tradition,       aimed at historical self-
                theoretical            instrumental              involving practical          understanding and
                reasoning about the    reasoning to achieve      reasoning about what it      collective consensus about
                nature of things       a known objective         is wise, right and proper    what to do to overcome
                                       or outcome                to do in a given situation   constraints on rationality,
                                                                                              justice, well-being
Example in      Development of         Development of            Development of               Community action and
teacher         logical thinking       lesson preparation        reflexive capacity to        education projects (and
education       using and building     skills, skills to teach   adapt immediate goals        action research projects)
                on the theoretical     state curriculum,         and means to changing        taking emancipatory
                resources of           skills to assess          circumstances in a class     action on educational and
                educational            students according        or school in light of        social issues confronted
                traditions             to policy or rules        educational values about     by a community
                                                                 the good for students and
                                                                 the good for humankind

To be continued….

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