New Perspectives in Special Education

Contemporary philosophical debates

By Michael Farrell

© 2012 – Routledge

288 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415504225
pub: 2012-05-03
US Dollars$59.95
Hardback: 9780415504218
pub: 2012-04-26
US Dollars$170.00

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About the Book

This book should be read by everyone who wants to understand special education today.

New Perspectives in Special Education opens the door to the fascinating and vitally important world of theory that informs contemporary special education. It examines theoretical and philosophical orientations such as ‘positivism’, ‘poststructuralism’ and ‘hermeneutics’, relating these to contemporary global views of special education.

Offering a refreshingly balanced view across a broad range of debates, this topical text guides the reader through the main theoretical and philosophical positions that may be held with regard to special education, and critically examines positions that often go unrecognised and unquestioned by practitioners and academics alike. It helps the reader to engage with and question the positions taken by themselves and others, by providing thinking points and suggestions for further reading at the end of each chapter.

Perspectives covered include:

  • Positivism and empiricism
  • Phenomenology and hermeneutics
  • Historical materialism and critical theory
  • Holism and constructivism
  • Structuralism and post structuralism
  • Pragmatism and symbolic interactionism
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Postmodernism and historical epistemology

Anyone wishing to gain a fuller understanding of special education should not be without this stimulating and much needed text.


"New perspectives in special education: contemporary philosophical debates brings a unique and critical perspective to a wide range of theoretical and philosophical debates which affect today’s complex contemporary global practices in Special Education. Throughout the book, Dr Michael Farrell provides detailed analysis, raises important issues and provokes thought, by offering a comprehensive, academically rigorous, and accessible overview of the theoretical and philosophical positions that inform and affect contemporary Special Education in practice." - Teacher Development, 2013, Vol 17

Table of Contents

About the author Acknowledgements Preface Chapter outlines 1. Setting the scene 2. Contemporary special education and its critics 3. Positivism and empiricism 4. Phenomenology and hermeneutics 5. Historical materialism and critical theory 6. Holism and constructivism 7. Structuralism and post structuralism 8. Pragmatism and symbolic interactionism 9. Psychoanalysis: Freud and Lacan 10. Postmodernism and historical epistemology 11. Positivist special education and other perspectives 12. Implications for special education of different perspectives Bibliography Index

About the Author

Michael Farrell is a widely published private special education consultant. He works with children, families, schools, local authorities, voluntary organisations, universities and government ministries. He has published extensively with Routledge, with recent titles including Debating Special Education, Educating Special Children, Second Edition, and second edition titles in the whole Effective Teacher's Guide series.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Special Education / General