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A modern history of educating students with mild intellectual disabilities in Saskatchewan (1900-2002)



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This study is an historical analysis of the education for students with mild intellectual disabilities in Saskatchewan from 1900-2002. The thesis analyzed the beginnings of thought on the construct of intelligence, its hereditarian orientation, and the IQ test that originated in 1904 to measure individual differences in intelligence. The use of the IQ test was traced as it progressed through the eugenics movement that dominated from approximately 1900-1940, as well as the mental hygiene movement that was present during roughly the same time period. The importance of the concept of intelligence and the IQ test was analyzed for how it affected the identification of individuals with an intellectual disability, and how the identification process affected their treatment and education. The classification and educational placement of students identified with an intellectual disability had parallel affects on the curriculum for these students. The changes in attitudes from eugenics and institutionalization of those identified with an intellectual disability and their subsequent deinstitutionalization, beginning in the 1960s, are examined for the effects these attitudinal shifts had on the education for these individuals. Education developed a system of special education that was based on measuring individual differences and making placement and curriculum decisions based upon these results. The education system in Saskatchewan developed from a segregationist philosophy to integration beginning in the 1970s. As the belief in the educability of these individuals and information on how to educate the intellectually disabled increased, a move towards full inclusion of these students began in the 1990s. As early as the 1970s, Saskatchewan Education began to develop specific curriculum guides and policies on the education of students with an intellectual disability. The progression of these documents up to 2002 is analyzed to determine the shifts in curriculum and student placement policy that occurred during this time period. The continuance of a reliance on the IQ test to identify and place students with an intellectual disability in the education system was analyzed. The attempt of Saskatchewan Education to deal with difficulties in providing for an appropriate education for students with an intellectual disability and suggestions for future directions are discussed.



assessment of intellectual disabilities, mild intellectual disabilities, history of education



Master of Education (M.Ed.)


Educational Psychology and Special Education


Educational Psychology and Special Education



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