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The Enlightenment: The History Of Special Education

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The history of Special Education begins with the 18th century. Before that time, persons with disabilities were not taken in consideration, and were often mistaken as being possessed by evil powers, cursed, or simply stupid (Blackhurst 13, 14). With the beginning of the 18th century, and also of the period known as the Enlightenment, ideas about education started to arise. The Enlightenment period influenced Special Education is many ways. To start, Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) publishes his Emile, a book about the education of children. According to Rousseau, learning should happen in agreement with a child’s cognitive speed, with minimal outer stimuli from society, which is known for praising social roles, and wealth. This…show more content…
In 1760 he founded the first public school for people with disabilities in France. He was concerned with language and phonetics being taught in a different way as a tool for the education of deaf and blind students. Following L’Epeé’s path, Valentin Haüy founded the “Institution Nationale des Jeunes Aveugles” in 1784, which is recognized as the first school in the world for the education of blind people. Haüy was inspired by many people: Rousseau, L’Epeé, and Madame Von Paradis, who was blind, and helped him develop the methods used in the school. Using these methods, Haüy was able to educate a blind boy who later became a teacher in the same school (Safford 38-46). Another person who was also concerned with the education of people with special needs, Jean Marc Gaspard Itard was concerned with different methods in order to educate disabled children. He tried to educate a boy, who was found in the wild, for about five years. With no actual improvements, Itard gave up on the attempt and let the boy go back to his wild life. Still, his researches and efforts were of great influence on the works of special educators, especially in the United…show more content…
Thomas Gallaudet, and Samuel Howe in taking action on the matter of special education. In Hartford, Connecticut, Rev. Thomas Gallaudet implemented the first school for the deaf in 1817. The school was called American Asylum for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb, and it is nowadays the AmericanSchool for the Deaf. Another person of equal importance in the history of special education is Samuel Gridley Howe. Howe was interested in the education of blind students, and in 1829 founded the first school for blind children in the United States. The school nowadays is called the Perkins School for the blind, and it is located in Massachusetts. Howe also was the founder of the Massachusetts School for Idiotic and Feebleminded children in 1848. Following the example of these two people, other states started opening institutions that aim to educate disabled children. In 1851 a school opened in Albany; in 1853 the Pennsylvania Training School fro Feebleminded Children opened as well; in 1857, Ohio State opened the Institution of the Feebleminded Youth; and in 1858 the first school for retarded children was open in Connecticut (Kanner 63, 64). With special education becoming more important through the years, in 1876 the Association of Medical Officers of American Institutions for Idiotic and Feebleminded Persons was found, and in 1878 two more special education classes opened in
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