Northampton Electronic Collection of Theses and Research


Garner, P. (2013) Editorial. Support for Learning. 28(2), pp. 50-51. 0268-2141.

Item Type: Article
Abstract: Professional development in education has long been reliant on sharing good practice. This has been recognised in academic research (Hustler et al., 2003) and by those charged with scrutinising quality of provision (OFSTED, 2006). At another quite different level the role of journal editing brings with it the bonus of providing continuous opportunities to be immersed in new ideas, revision or reworking of well-established theories and practice, and mediating dialogue between reviewers and contributors. Each of these elements is a feature of my own role as Editor of Support for Learning. What has become apparent to me is that being in this position offers me a wonderful opportunity for professional enrichment. So, while the tasks associated with producing a collection of articles for the journal's readership on a regular basis is sometimes challenging, there can be no mistaking the benefits that this process brings. In a word, I have my own ‘continuous professional development’ programme, which brings me into conversation and debate with fellow academics, practitioners from all dimensions of provision, and with those who are fundamentally involved in the process, on account of their barriers to learning or their disabilities. The present issue of the journal highlights the privileged position I have, inasmuch as the articles included represent a wide-ranging set of topics, with many overlapping ideas and challenges, and they provide consideration of some well-established themes alongside others which, even if not ‘new’, are nonetheless relatively unrecorded in journals or other media. It is the notion of continuity between ostensibly quite different topics that always draws me in. In many ways this represents a concrete metaphor of special and inclusive education. It is doubtful whether there is one aspect of this extensive field that could be considered as a ‘single-issue’ topic, such are the all-encompassing synergies that obtain. Inclusive schools link to leadership style, supporting students with emotional and behavioural difficulties with whole school orientations and beliefs, social disadvantage with underperformance – and so on. An endless list of such correlations, already embedded in education as a generic field, becomes extended and reified in specialist work with children and young people with disabilities. Each of the articles included in this issue of Support for Learning illustrates the point. Rather than spell out these linkages and commonalities for an informed and professionally astute audience, it is perhaps more appropriate to invite you to engage in your own professional development activity. Any familiar graphic technique – whether mind-mapping, Venn diagram or other – can be used to illustrate the connections between the key words describing each article in this current issue. Others can be added, of course, which might occur to you as being salient or descriptive of the article's content. The result, when I attempted this a few days ago, was a quite staggering illustration of the systemic nature of what we are involved in. What it illustrated was that no single aspect of the work we do in supporting learners is separate or unattached from a host of other considerations. The complexity is challenging, but also stimulating. Of itself, this tension can be a catalyst for new thinking – or professional growth and development. As suggested, the present collection of articles offers a rich variety of themes which often interlock and sometimes offer counterpoint stances. The content of the present issue is built around a broad theme, that of the way in which the physical environment impacts on learners within educational settings and beyond them. The contributions highlight the ways in which, by recognising the importance of these contexts, those involved in supporting children and young people who experience learning difficulties can provide more effective support. The first pair of articles considers aspects of autism and of the importance of environmental adaptation. Aaron R. Deris and his colleague Cynthia F. Di Carlo explore these issues and point out that the techniques described, while especially important when working with young children with autism, are also helpful for all young children. Keith McAllister and Karim Hadjri extend this to look at the use of physical factors in supporting children with autism spectrum disorder in a mainstream resource base and assisting in the creation of inclusive learning spaces. Again, these authors point out that the approaches they are recommending can be applied to a wider range of children in educational settings. A somewhat different theme is covered by Melanie Slade and her co-investigators. They analyse the role that the outdoor environment can play in children's education. This is especially important given the current context of declining access to, and engagement with, the natural environment for many children. Data suggest that these experiences have a special relevance for children from disadvantaged or marginalised communities. The focus on the external environment is maintained in Hazreena Hussein's article, which explores the ways in which learning can be promoted in sensory gardens within special school settings. The final article, by Eva Wennås Brante, adopts a different theme. She considers the way in which adult dyslexia is addressed. In doing so she not unexpectedly raises the spectre of the labels given to anyone who learns in different ways or at a different pace. Tackling such a concern ought to be a major, overarching focus for generic teacher development.
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of Education > LC3950 Exceptional children and youth. Special education > LC4001 Children and youth with disabilities. Learning disabled children and youth
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1705 Education and training of teachers and administrators > LB1775 Professional aspects of teaching and school administrators
Creators: Garner, Philip
Publisher: Blackwell
Faculties, Divisions and Institutes: University Faculties, Divisions and Research Centres - OLD > Research Centre > Centre for Special Needs Education and Research
University Faculties, Divisions and Research Centres - OLD > Faculty of Education & Humanities
University Faculties, Divisions and Research Centres - OLD > Faculty of Education & Humanities > Special Education Needs and Inclusion
Faculties > Faculty of Education & Humanities > Special Education Needs and Inclusion
University Faculties, Divisions and Research Centres - OLD > Research Centre > Centre for Education and Research
Research Centres > Centre for Education and Research
Date: May 2013
Date Type: Publication
Page Range: pp. 50-51
Journal or Publication Title: Support for Learning
Volume: 28
Number: 2
Language: English
ISSN: 0268-2141
Status: Published / Disseminated
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