Becoming a Special Educator: Specialized Professional Training for Teachers of Children with Disabilities in Boston, 1870-1930
by Robert L. Osgood - 1999
This article examines the origins of the development of a separate professional identity as special educators for teachers of children with disabilities in the United States, focusing particularly on the Boston, Massachusetts public schools from 1870 to 1930. The article first traces emergent professionalization among teachers in institutions for individuals with disabilities, identifying specific training programs as well as the growth of professional knowledge and professional associations. It then discusses efforts by the Boston public schools to provide specialized training for teachers recruited to work in four special education programs: the Horace Mann School for the Deaf, conservation of eyesight classes for children with vision impairments, speech improvement classes for students with identified speech disorders, and special classes for children considered mentally retarded. Each program is examined in terms of desired teacher characteristics, requirements for hiring or certification, in-service programs to enhance professional knowledge, and other professional opportunities such as associations, publications, and mentoring. The article concludes with a brief discussion of how teacher training has contributed to the separation between general and special educators and how it might be redesigned to facilitate a reintegration of these separate professional worlds.
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