Reasons Why I’m a Special Education Major

Since the moment I declared a major in Special Education, I have heard what a patient and kind hearted individual I must be. Although this is meant to be a compliment, I undoubtedly take it as an insult on behalf of my future students. In my mind, this reinforces the stigma that it takes a “special” person to teach “special” children, when in reality it just takes a person who understands that students, with or without disabilities, deserve the utmost amount of respect and passion from their teacher. Even more so, it means that a teacher without a concentration in special education does not have the capability or will power to teach them.

Society places a label on people with disabilities making them seem less than those without disabilities. Students and parents are left endlessly fighting for equality in schools, only to be pushed aside. Not because students aren’t capable of learning material, but because teachers feel they are not equipped to educate students with accommodations or modifications. With this, teachers fall into the trap of stigmas that surround students with disabilities, leaving a student’s education to suffer. Students are forced to travel on a school bus for hours to a school district that thrives with accommodating students with disabilities. It consistently makes me wonder, “Why can’t all schools be like this?”. Of course, special education cases should be taken individually, not lumped together in generalizations, but why don’t schools take the time and resources to really try to include these students?

Even when students with disabilities are placed into general education classrooms, are teachers truly attempting to provide them with an authentic experience? Are teachers forcing “helper” and “helpee” relationships, or are students fostering genuine friendships with those in their classroom? I remember as a student myself being told consistently to be kind to those who may learn or act differently than me, and to help them whenever possible. As a child, I saw nothing wrong with this, I was just helping my classmates out and being a good friend. Now, as a special education major, I wonder if I was placed into these relationships forcibly by my teachers.

All of these reasons are why I chose to be a special education major. I want my students to have a genuine and authentic experience in my classroom, always feel welcomed, and most importantly, feel as though they belong in my classroom. Students with disabilities shouldn’t have to fight to gain an education, they should have equal access. I want to aide in changing the stigma placed upon students with disabilities. So, next time someone mentions they are a special education major, commend them for shaping the future minds of the world, not their willingness to do something all teachers should be doing.