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Co-operative Learning Strategies for Mainstreaming/Integration

David Johnson and Roger Johnson

Placing handicapped students in the regular classroom is the beginning of an opportunity to influence handicapped students' lives deeply by promoting constructive relationships between them and their non-handicapped peers. Like all opportunities, however, mainstreaming carries the risk of making things worse as well as the possibility of making things better. If mainstreaming goes badly, handicapped students will experience increased stigmatization, stereotyping, and rejection. Even worse, they may be ignored or treated with paternalistic care. If mainstreaming goes well, true friendships and positive relationships will develop between handicapped and non-handicapped students. The essential question is, what does the regular classroom teacher do to ensure that mainstreaming goes well? The answer to this question goes beyond constructive teacher-student interaction and providing students with appropriate instruction materials. The answer is found in how relationships among students are structured.

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