Students with Special Needs in Mainstream Education Essay

It would not be an exaggeration to suggest that education plays an important role in the development of the human civilization: it did not only facilitate the exchange of knowledge among the generations, but also contributed to the inclusion of an individual into the social environment through various shared activities. Nevertheless, one should also keep in mind that throughout history the access to education has not been equally available for the people: it used to be that only the rich were able to afford it while the rest of the population was left behind. Therefore, universal availability of education is a relatively recent phenomenon. In addition to that, it is worth mentioning that unlike before people with various disabilities are now included in the educational process. This causes a lot of debate with one side arguing that it is necessary to exclude students with disabilities while the other side insists that including those students in regular classrooms will have a bigger positive impact. Teaching students with disabilities together with other students contributes to the higher academic achievement of the former, improves their self-esteem, and allows them to develop better social skills; that is why mainstreaming should be seen as a positive phenomenon. In order to prove this, the paper will address three major points: the improvement of academic performance, explaining it with the benefits of indirect learning, better teaching, and the influence of a new approach to reaching a student; the improvement of self-esteem, explaining it with the fact that social needs of students with special needs are satisfied, they are presented with new challenges and new life; acquisition of better social skills through constant communication and assumption of a new role.

To begin with, it may be useful to focus on one of the major benefits of mainstreaming which is an improvement of academic performance. There are several points that should be mentioned in particular. First of all, it is worth mentioning that the scholars have found a close link between mainstreaming in academic achievement of students with disabilities which means that this may be seen as a valid way to help them make more of their education (Powers 66). This can be explained by the benefits that indirect learning brings to those students. Thus, when students with disabilities are taught in a classroom full of regular students, the former pay attention to the way in which the latter learn. This is an extremely valuable experience since it presents new approaches that may not have emerged if only students with disabilities had been present in a classroom.

Another point that should be mentioned with this regard is that the quality of teaching is likely to improve when a teacher faces a mixed group of students. Indeed, a teacher will have to switch between different modes, paying attention to the peculiarities of regular students and students with disabilities. This will keep a teacher in a mode that makes one’s focus on the educational process stronger and, therefore, will improve the quality of teaching. Moreover, one should not forget that the students with disabilities might benefit from the application of approaches that are usually found in classrooms full of regular students. This makes sense since teachers who are engaged in special education tend to employ approaches that are different from those used in conventional classrooms.

Furthermore, it may be useful to state that the improvement of academic performance of students with disabilities might also be explained by the fact that they find themselves in a new educational environment that appeals to new aspects of their personality. It is true that some scholars might condemn this approach as unconventional and, therefore, unsuccessful. However, one should keep in mind that while being taught in special education classes, the students stay in their comfort zone, figuratively speaking. So, when they are taught together with regular students, they are pushed out of their comfort zone and are able to explore their full potential. This, in turn, may have a positive impact on their academic performance. Obviously, the improvement of the latter is a complex process that cannot be explained by a single factor. However, there is concrete evidence that mainstreaming can contribute to the academic achievement of students with disabilities.

The next point that should be considered is the improvement of self-esteem of students with disabilities. There are several aspects that are essential for the understanding of this. First of all, one might recall theory of the hierarchy of needs developed by Abraham Maslow. One of the categories of needs that were identified is social needs. While it is clear that students with disabilities may have a wide social network, but there is no doubt that they would most certainly benefit from the inclusion of other people, especially their peers (Riddell 143). In other words, the very fact that students with special needs will be enrolled in a classroom full of other students will boost their social network and will contribute to satisfaction of their social needs.

What is even more important is that mainstreaming also contributes to the emergence of new challenges that students with disabilities will face. Nevertheless, the unique nature of those challenges is a positive one since it contributes to personal growth. For example, a student might focus on the necessity to maintain a steady and productive relationship with one’s peers. It may be difficult at first, but in the end, one will be rewarded with new friends. This sense of accomplishment is likely to boost one’s self-esteem greatly. Moreover, this is something that cannot be accomplished if students with disabilities had been limited to a special education classroom. Obviously, there is always a possibility that the relationship between the students will be quite tense. However, this is the risk that should be accepted since the possibility of a positive outcome is much greater.

One should also keep in mind that mainstreaming might serve as a threshold of a new life for students with disabilities. For example, it will indicate the beginning of more intense communication with other people which is something that a person was deprived of due to one’s disability. One might consider the following example: a student with a disability has been studied in special education classes for a considerable period of time and has developed a certain understanding of the way in which one can communicate with others. Unfortunately, this model was not correct and was constantly diminishing one’s value as a human being. The inclusion of such a student in a classroom together with regular students will allow one to develop a new understanding of communication and will be responsible for a new chapter in one’s life which will feature higher self-esteem.

Finally, one should keep in mind that mainstreaming is also responsible for the development of between social skills. There is a number of factors that can explain this. First of all, a student with a disability will be able to practice communication on numerous occasions. Social skills require constant practice in order to be mastered. It is clear that if such students are limited to special education classrooms, they will be exposed to a limited number of instances when they will be able to apply their social skills. On the contrary, mainstreaming greatly contributes to their communication by adding more people to their social network, ultimately making their communication skills better since they are practice more often. Given the importance of those skills, one might suggest that the benefits of mainstreaming are obvious.

Furthermore, it may be useful to state that by participating in an educational process that includes teachers, students without disabilities, and students with disabilities, the latter will be able to develop a proper understanding of their role in the social environment. Thus, it is possible that deprivation of communication in the early stages of one’s life might have resulted in decreased self-esteem and development of an incorrect perspective on the nature of communication with others. The time spent in a classroom with regular students will show that disabilities should not be seen as impenetrable barriers that prevent students from interacting properly with their peers. It is true that students with disabilities will notice some differences in treatment as well as their academic performance; however, they might also notice that the gap between their actual results and those that they have imagined before may be big; so, they will have to adjust their perception of their role.

What is even more important is that the inclusion of students with disabilities in the education process may also contribute to the improvement of social skills of students that do not have disabilities. According to Shah and Priestley mainstreaming is able to have a positive impact on all sides engaged, not limited to students with disabilities (100). Indeed, mainstreaming shows that the social environment can be diverse and there is no need to treat those who are different negatively. Moreover, mainstreaming might help regular students deal with their own prejudices about disabilities and will allow them to develop an open mind about various aspects of life which will contribute to the success of their education in the future.

Having examined all the points that were mentioned in the paragraphs above, one is able to come to the following conclusion: mainstreaming should be seen as a positive phenomenon since it contributes to higher academic achievement, improves the self-esteem of students with disabilities, and allows them to develop better social skills. It has been shown that numerous scholars link mainstreaming with better academic achievement that can be explained by indicating the benefits of indirect learning that the students with disabilities develop while watching their peers. Moreover, the quality of teaching is also expected to be higher since a teacher will be more focused on one’s work. Finally, the students with disabilities will most certainly benefit from a new approach that they would not have met if they had been limited to a special needs classroom. Secondly, it has been pointed out that mainstreaming also has a positive impact on the self-esteem of the students with disabilities. The latter feels more confident because their social needs have been satisfied which improve the quality of their life. They are likely to face new challenges which will allow them to open their full potential and even start a new chapter in their life. Finally, it has been shown that mainstreaming contributed to the development of better social skills of the student with and without disabilities. The former benefit from an increased number of interactions with other students and the ability to adjust the perception of their role in the social environment. The latter tend to develop a proper understanding of the way in which they should treat others. This will encourage them to have an open mind about various issues and appreciate the diversity that they will face in the social environment, ultimately contributing to their success in the future.

Works Cited

Powers, Stephen. “Influences of Student and Family Factors on Academic Outcomes of Mainstream Secondary School Deaf Students.” Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, vol. 8, no. 1, Jan. 2003, pp. 57–78., doi:10.1093/deafed/8.1.57.

Riddell, Sheila. Disability, Culture, and Identity. London, Routledge, 2016.

Shah, Sonali, and Mark Priestley. Disability and Social Change: Private Lives and Public Policies. New York, NY, Policy Press, 2011.

Singal, Nidhi. Disability, poverty, and education. London, Routledge, 2013.

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

[Accessed: November 26, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016.

[Accessed: November 26, 2021] (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
Available at:

[Accessed: November 26, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: November 26, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: November 26, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: November 26, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: November 26, 2021]
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