Item – Thèses Canada

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Ellis, Jason,1981-
"Backward and brilliant children" : a social and policy history of disability, childhood, and education in Toronto's special education classes, 1910 to 1945.
Ph. D. -- York University, 2011
Ottawa : Library and Archives Canada = Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, [2013]
6 microfiches
Includes bibliographical references.
<?Pub Inc> This dissertation is about the origins of the modern special education system (ca. 1910 to 1945); the students who attended special classes; and changing educational categories of ability and disability. Toronto public schools are presented as case study of the typical North American special education system. This system, which school reformers established in different cities in the early twentieth century, represented an approach to educating 'exceptional' children that was characterized by segregated instructional settings and separate curricula, as well as by adherence to the medical model of disability and learning difficulty. Based on the argument that student experiences greatly enhance our understanding of special education history, this dissertation uses a rare source--student records--to reconstruct the school days of special class students in Toronto. Eugenics, the progressive organizational revolution in urban schooling, and intelligence testing contributed to the development of Toronto's special class system. By 1930, Toronto had instituted special classes for children and adolescents with intellectual disabilities and learning difficulties, children with physical disabilities, children who were deaf, and other children with perceptual impairments and speech difficulties. Reform in the 1930s and early 1940s altered the categories of disability and ability special educators used. However, despite these reforms, the special education system's basic principle of separate, special classes remained intact into the post-1945 period. Young people's experiences with Toronto special classes were diverse and complex--and were often shaped by their various disabled and deaf, class, ethnic or racialized, and gender identities. The many interactions between the special class system and young people and their parents teach two general lessons. First, that young people and their parents were historical actors, even as they faced off with a daunting bureaucratic school system. Second, that some young people benefited from special classes and some did not. Consequently, the complex history of special education cannot be characterized solely as enlightened benevolence or as draconian social control. This dissertation has contemporary policy implications. It offers an explanation as to why contemporary special education has proven resistant to inclusive educational reforms that challenge the basic premise of separate instruction for 'exceptional' children.