Early Communicative Skills: The Place of Communication in the Curriculum for Pupils With Severe and Profound Learning Difficulties

MacKay, Gilbert F (1989) Early Communicative Skills: The Place of Communication in the Curriculum for Pupils With Severe and Profound Learning Difficulties. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The study is concerned with the development of the area of communication in the curriculum for a group of pupils who did not become entitled to education in Scotland until 1974. These pupils have severe "mental handicap", or "learning difficulties". The study is specifically concerned with the place of communication in the curriculum of those pupils who have little or no speech. The most advanced pupils to be considered have just begun to use "two-word-sentences". The most profoundly handicapped are functioning at the level of infants in the first weeks, or even days, of life. The study traces the development of special education in Scotland for pupils with severe and profound learning difficulties. It then considers the extent to which it is possible to think of developing a curriculum for these pupils, given that they cannot follow the curricula of mainstream primary and secondary schools. It is suggested that "ecological validity" is a useful principle for guiding the development of curriculum, and for judging the value of the experiences which the pupils are offered in school. Communication is chosen as an area of the curriculum on which to focus, as difficulties in the development of communication are a characteristic of mental handicap. The nature of communication is examined. It is suggested that the "pragmatic" view, which sees communication as a purposeful sharing of ideas, is a suitable foundation on The opinions of a sample of teachers and instructors on the teaching of communication were surveyed. The survey provided guidance for later developments in the study. It also uncovered concern about assessment charts, the objectives approach and behaviour modification in the education of pupils with severe and profound learning difficulties. A review of programmes and other materials for teaching early communication to the pupils reveals that many of the materials assume that these procedures will be used in teaching. It is suggested that this assumption is a result of perceiving mental handicap as an illness to be treated or cured. A set of draft curriculum materials was compiled on the basis of a simple framework of five stages which trace the development of communication from birth to the two-word stage. The materials were tested in a pilot study which produced recommendations for a revision of the framework and of the materials themselves. The revision was evaluated in an outreach project where it was found to help teachers select appropriate learning activities for their pupils. Throughout the study, there are examples of teachers adapting proposals for the development of curriculum to fit the individual circumstances in which they work daily. The outcome of this personal investment is that professional development and curriculum development complement each other.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Special education, Disability studies, Speech therapy, Curriculum development
Date of Award: 1989
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1989-78025
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2020 15:43
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2020 15:43
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/78025

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