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Research of Why Students with Disabilities Don't Benefit from Mainstream Education System

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Mainstream Education for Students with Disabilities
  3. Conclusion


“A child is like a butterfly in the wind. Some can fly higher than others but each one flies the best it can. Why compare one against the other? Each one is different, each one is special, each one is beautiful”. In an ideal world, all children would be born normal, without any disabilities. However, this is inevitable. In this regards, there are many schools with exceptional students who are experiencing mild disabilities. Hence, the movement of mainstreaming has become an overwhelming trend throughout the education system. The term ‘mainstreaming’ was first used in the 1970s to describe the practice of integrating students with disabilities in a regular classroom, alongside non-disabled students during specific periods based on their skills. Mainstream education provides a natural, real-world environment, it exposes all children to diversity and inspire and challenge students with disabilities to excel. However, while it is an appealing, inclusive approach we cannot deny the downside it has on students with disabilities. We live in a world that is predominantly made up of others that do not have the same needs, but as a nation have we really reach to that level of maturity were we are tolerant of those who we perceived to be different from us? Exceptional students do not benefit from the mainstream education system, as a result of inadequate training among teachers, lack of individualized instructions and deprivation of opportunities to develop social skills.

Mainstream Education for Students with Disabilities

The hindrance of social skills have become one of the main disadvantages of mainstreaming. According to an article entitled “The Choice of Educational Settings: The Pros and Cons of Mainstreaming Children with Intellectual Disabilities”, “Mainstreaming offers many rewarding opportunities for socialization. For instance, students who have disorders such as Prader-Willie syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, and Down syndrome can develop excellent social skills through social imitation. These students truly benefit by observing and imitating their peers in a regular classroom”. The article further stated that mainstream promotes the ability to embrace human diversity. Conversely, “Most students with disabilities experience behavioral issues, such as difficulties controlling physical or verbal impulses; they may shout out answers without being acknowledged or unintentionally say something thoughtless or rude to a classmate. They may also have challenges recognizing personal space and appropriate levels of physical contact” (Hayes, 1994). As a result of these inappropriate and disruptive behaviours, the possibility therefore exist that they may be ridiculed or ostracized by their peers. Additionally, there are teachers who are impatient and exhibit hostility and negligence towards them. Such unethical conducts adversely affect these students, extending from beyond the classroom, to their personal lives. These types of pressure or other social skills deficits may impact their self-concept and self-efficacy, thus increasing the likelihood of them becoming fearful, uncooperative and withdrawn. The state of rejection and isolation therefore results in students being deprived of opportunities to develop contemporary skills primarily, communication and collaboration. Lacking such vital skills will contribute to their inability to effectively operate and thrive in the 21st century. Despite the fact that learners with disabilities are physically present and included in the classroom with their peers, they are still deprived of a special classroom environment that is properly adapted to accommodate their specific needs. Can we truly say that they are fully included if they are unable to interact appropriately with their peers?

An absence of specialized training among teachers can be the most important constraints that minimize learning and undermine achievement in the mainstream education system. Hornby (2014) postulates that “Regular classroom teachers can only promote affective learning for student with disabilities, through comprehensive knowledge of the different types of special education needs children and the practical teaching strategies needed to effectively educate them in mainstream classrooms”. This lack of knowledge and awareness affect the teacher’s ability to effectively plan and execute lessons that focus on students’ abilities, strengths and weaknesses as well as their interest levels, thus creating unrealistic demands on children academic performances. The teacher may also become frustrated and lacks motivation to teach. Such attitudes can easily and negatively influence students who are extrinsically motivated to learn, as well as deflating and discouraging those who are eager to learn. Hence, the students become intellectually inferior and develops a sense of disconnection from the learning process. Irrefutably, our society would candidly refuse the idea of allowing an individual without any form of medical training to assume the roles of a nurse or doctor. Likewise, teachers without special education training are not properly equipped to create classrooms which offer optimal growth for those with disabilities, as there are certain disabilities which require specialized training beyond the general education certification offered through most college curricula. Callis (2017) firmly believes that “Unless teachers are provided thorough cultural competency training and are offered ongoing professional development opportunities that focus on mainstream, it is unlikely that they will be prepared to accommodate the educational and social needs of exceptional students”.

Research has shown that overcrowded classrooms, inflexible timetables, unavailability of relevant teaching materials, inadequate specialist support and equipment’s are factors that affect the successfulness of individualized instructions within the mainstream education system. The article “Inclusive special education: Development of a new theory”, states that “The priority for student with disabilities must be that they have access to curricula which are appropriate for them, not that they are fitted into a national curriculum which was designed for the mainstream population” It is therefore necessary for students with disabilities to receive intensive and focused instructions. However, in a regular classroom environment, the teacher has a set curriculum that must taught to the entire class. Therefore these students are deprived of the opportunity to learn. “The curriculum and teaching methods used by educators play a pivotal role in as far as attaining effective teaching in mainstream classrooms. However, a rigid and inflexible curriculum that does not allow for individual differences can lead to learning breakdown”. It is quite demanding for one teacher to administer individualized instructions in a classroom of over twenty students, within a specific period. While many teachers might be capable of designing effective lessons and provide individual instruction on a nominal basis, there is simply inadequate time for the intensive teaching that that is needed by those with disabilities. Hence, the implementation of individualized instruction requires the assistance of more than one teacher. Students with disabilities should have readily access to the materials and resources that will enhance their educational experiences. However, schools in low socioeconomic areas may not have the advantage of assets because of financial concerns.


As noble and ambitious as mainstream education is, it suffers from many fundamental flaws. It inhibits social skills, lacks proficient teachers and individualized instructions. Sadly, the primary focus of the mainstream education system is to merely encourage students with disabilities to sit in a regular class and feign normalization without considering whether such learners are truly a part of the teaching and learning process? We simply cannot allow socialization to be the main goal of learning at the expense of academic education. Therefore in order for this educational approach to be truly beneficial and to facilitate effective learning in relation to learners with disabilities, all barriers must be eradicated. It is critical that serious adjustments must be made to the curricula. In addition, learning methods and practices must be tailored to suit their needs.

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Phenomenological Experiences of Students With Disabilities in School. (2022, December 02). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 23, 2023, from
“Phenomenological Experiences of Students With Disabilities in School.” GradesFixer, 02 Dec. 2022,
Phenomenological Experiences of Students With Disabilities in School. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Mar. 2023].
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