by Dr Ow Yeong
This is a longitudinal autoethnographic inquiry into the quest to explore the support for students with special needs in a mainstream primary school in Singapore. By employing information gleaned from multiple interviews with both students and teachers, the research explores the current issues and problems faced by this particular group of children in their learning in the mainstream classroom. Issues perceived by both students and teachers include problem in completing writing assignments, a lack of interest in the subject matter taught, as well as a short attention span during daily work.
Rising from the input of this initial generation of information, this research further explored the autoethnographical journey of the researcher as a teacher who started as a novice in constructivist oriented teaching, illustrating the researcher’s attempts to use the elements of constructivist oriented teaching to resolve the issues and problems of students with special needs in her classes.
The researcher’s journey continued four years later, with her being a more experienced constructivist oriented teacher. Her mode of teaching is grounded on Lev Vygotsky’s social constructivist views, especially those articulated in his theory of dysontogenesis , which emphasises the empowerment of individuals rather than a focus on their impairments or deficiencies, suggesting how students with special needs should be offered the opportunity to maximise their potential.