Posts Tagged ‘Students With Special Needs’
This article explores a study the author, Bradley Bernstein, conducted in elementary school classes for the “Educationally Handicapped” using Volia Spolin games. During the course of the study the author observed many positive effects of the activities on the children in regards to their relationships with their classmates, their teachers and in the way they looked at themselves as well.
The children in the classes for “Educationally Handicapped” students
(this article was written in 1985; I believe we would now refer to this population as students with “Special Needs.”) had a wide range of problems including emotional and behavior disorders, mild brain injuries and attention issues as well as those problems we now refer to as Learning Disabilities: dyslexia, communication challenges, etc. As a whole, the author cites that the group of children involved “appeared to be and often acted like losers, fighting the system and always coming out on the bottom.” (220) The classroom teachers themselves tended to approach the students in regard to their problems, with the behaviors they wished to extinguish in the students garnering most attention in their interaction with each child on a daily basis.
The Spolin games, which by their very nature take the focus off the isolated individual and onto the successful working of the group as a whole, allowed the children and their teachers to experience that process through “the intertwining of three types of interaction: with the physical environment; with other people; and which one’s own intuitive-creative functioning.”(220) For the students in the study, who had previously experienced very strained relationships in the classroom environment which frequently erupted in such disruptive and negative behaviors as “verbal abuse, bickering, and physical aggression” the games allowed for opportunities for interaction between the students and their teachers which moved beyond each individual’s issues and towards a community goal. When the focus of the classroom was no longer on negative aspects of the individual student that needed to be changed and placed on the game and on working to play it as a group, the disruptive behaviors were greatly lessened, and many children exhibited “a feeling of release, a sense of personal accomplishment that is generated by contributing to a group rather than through any external means of reward and punishment given by the teacher.”(223)
link to article – http://www.jstor.org.pallas2.tcl.sc.edu/stable/1477044