On Friday after teaching two English classes, I headed over Berzeliusskolan, the school that Katie is doing her student teaching at while in Sweden. Students come to Berzeliusskolan because of its specialty as a math and science high school. In addition to its advanced math and science curriculum for the students, it also houses the school for those in special education. I spent two hours talking with the head master of the special education school and receiving a tour of their facilities. It was such a worthwhile, and educational meeting. Because I will be beginning my Master's in Special Education starting in June and all of my experiences at the Kelly Autism Program back at WKU, it was something I did not want to pass up.
The main difference between special education in Sweden compared to the United States is that students with special needs are not mainstreamed in the normal classroom. Once diagnosed, students go to the special education school program.It is a completely separate system from the usual Swedish curriculum.
It is crazy how much support and money the special education school at Berzeliusskolan has to teach the students. For the 57 students that attend, there are 37 teachers and aides. There are five programs the students get to choose from based upon what they are interested in and what they would like to focus on. Student choice is again important.
I loved going on the tour, and learning about the program. I enjoyed noting the similarities and differences and trying to understand the whole special education system and why they are doing what they are doing. The classrooms had so much art work from the students, specific student work stations, and so many visual schedules for the students. It seemed like a great learning environment for the students, and I could tell that so much effort was put forth to make sure students are successful.