Teachers' social representations of students with special needs: educational practice and the ideal of adjustment to normality

In this research, the theory of representations provides the background to discuss teacher's conceptions on the inclusion of students with special needs in the regular school system. We investigated the hypothesis that the way teachers see disabled students in the classroom guides their behavior and practice. Data were collected through a questionnaire including this evocative question: "including a student with special needs into my classroom". The target population was constituted of 107 students of the Pedagogy course at the Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso. Sixty attended the course in the township of Canarana, in 2001, and 47 enrolled in Cuiabá, in 2005. Emphatically, teachers speak about education based on an identity matrix closely related to their practice and their perception of students with special needs is rooted in a hegemonic representation of normality.

Educational inclusion; Student with special needs; Social representations

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