“You and I Will Change the World”Student Teachers’ Motives for Choosing Special Education

Rivka Hillel Lavian


In the last few years we have noticed that a large number of students opt to study special education in preference toother fields in the colleges of education. The sources and implications of this phenomenon must be investigatedparticularly considering the proportion of pupils with special needs in the educational system. Many studies haveaddressed the issue of the motivation for selecting teaching in regular education but this topic has hardly beeninvestigated in special education. Therefore, the objective of this research is to examine through life-stories whatmotivates students of education, including those in the academic retraining programs, to choose special education.The research question: What motivates student teachers to major in special education? The research is anarrative research, which has many contributions for teaching and for education: the proximity to the agents ofeducation by focusing on their discourses, the dismantling of barriers between the researcher and subject and theempowerment of the educators working in the field. The narrative form contributes to the professional and personaldevelopment of teachers and other educators.The research group included 20 special education students in one of the large colleges in Israel. The research toolwas the autobiography, a written life-story.In the narrative analysis approach used here, hypotheses were based on direct descriptions and explanations providedby the narrators. Thus, a picture emerged of the subject under examination that reflected the data and the researchparticipants' world. No theory of any kind was imposed on the data. The present research was founded on thecontent-based, categorical analysis model developed by Lieblich, Tuval-Mashich & Zilber (1998).The picture arising from the narratives is that of highly motivated teachers. Most of them came to special educationfrom a very personal place, from personal or familial difficulties. Some of them have learning disabilities or werenew immigrants. Some of them are sisters to children with special needs. This forced them to experience in the earlystages of their lives a treatment where they experienced success either through personal responsibility or in thearmy. They come to teaching with the intent of changing the system, to make it better and more empathetic. Some ofthem come to teaching out of a desire for a corrective experience for themselves after a sense of failure in the regularsystem. Some of the participants indicated the influence that significant special education teachers had on them asmodels of identification.All the participants recognized themselves as having personal traits and abilities which drove them to pursue thisprofession such as creativity and flexibility, commitment, patience, sensitivity and empathy. Most of theparticipants perceive special education as more meaningful than regular education, while some of them seeeducational studies as a step towards studying various types of therapy.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/wje.v3n4p10

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World Journal of Education
ISSN 1925-0746(Print)  ISSN 1925-0754(Online)

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