University of Tasmania
whole_PhelpsWilliamJohn1986_thesis.pdf (2.44 MB)

Systems applications and Tasmanian special education

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posted on 2023-05-27, 17:02 authored by Phelps, WJ
The education of disabled children in Tasmania, as in many other places, is characterized by a lack of co-ordination, ad hoe decision making and reactiveness. These dysfunctions could be remedied if there were, among teachers and administrators, a general orientation to the application of systems concepts. This orientation is nothing more than a particular way of thinking about problems and finding solutions to them. The systems approach permits decision makers to examine, analyse and plan solutions for problems found in the field of special education. The first chapter of this paper is a description of the development and structure of special education provisions in Tasmania. The history is largely responsible for the present unco-ordinated situation which is so much in need of a more rational approach. The paper then proceeds to a discussion of the nature of systems. A system can be thought of as a set of objects and the relationships among them, all operating together for the benefit of the whole. Within each system is a number of sub-systems while each system is itself a sub-system of a bigger and more complex system. The parts of a system and its dimensions (closed/open, static/dynamic) are discussed along with a brief mention of models of systems. There are various types of systems, each being able to fulfull a certain purpose or meet a particular goal. They range in complexity from simple taxonomies, through hierarchies, transformation operations and branching systems to the concept of the feedback loop and reflect, in order, an increasing capacity to promote understanding of the real world of people. For a systems approach to be taken in special education, there are underlying assumptions which need to be identified and problem solving implications of which a practitioner needs to be aware. Some of these are discussed in Chapter III, along with some dysfunctions which Wolfensburger regards as typically present in those special education provisions which lack a systems approach. Having used illustrations mainly from his own experience in Tasmania to suggest that special education would benefit from a greater orientation to systems, the writer describes five applications of systems approaches in Australia and the U.S. Some of these applications are already functioning while others are blueprints easily transferred to the real world. They include a system of principles, a decision making model and the development of curricula. Chapter V is a description of two specific management techniques using systems concepts (PPBS and PERT) and thoughts on how they were used/could have been used/could be used to improve the management of special education in this state. The writer's conclusion is that, despite some excellent field work in Tasmania, the education of disabled children is marred by a lack of cohesion and a lack of planning. This situation could be changed by the adoption of systems concepts. Some very reoent developments give cause to hope that this is happening.


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Copyright 1985 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (MEd)--University of Tasmania, 1986. Bibliography: leaves 86-88

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