Dominating Perspectives on Special Needs Education In Media - A document analysis of newspaper articles contributing to the public debates on Special Needs Education in Norway from 2014 to 2017
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Children and young people in Norway spend a considerable amount of time in the educational system, and some students receive special needs education both in and out of the class. The compulsory inclusive school in Norway is based on a principle of equal opportunity for all and aim to provide education based on their potentials that will prepare children for later life. Special needs education has been through many changes and reforms throughout educational history. Today, municipalities and counties are mainly in charge of schools and education, even though all schools follow the same curriculum. Special needs education is also a recurring and sometimes heated topic for debates in the Norwegian media. Newspapers and other news media play an important part in making information and debates on current events accessible to the public, as well as influencing politics. In this study, document analysis is used to analyze the public debates concerning special needs education. After searching for newspaper articles using related words and phrases such as special needs education, inclusive school, and special schools, and using snowball sampling to find related articles, a great number of online newspaper articles were found. As this topic has been discussed in the media for some time, and is continuing to be discussed, it was decided that limiting the data material to articles published between 2014 and 2017 would be necessary. Through thematic reading, identification of themes and patterns, and with help from academic literature, this study examines who are present in the debates, what perspectives on special needs education and disability are used, and the themes that are discussed regarding special needs education in the debates. In addition, one of the interests was to see whether or not children and youth are present with their experiences in the educational system, and the representation of students is a topic of discussion in the study. Theoretically, the study draws on social constructionism and the social studies of children and childhood, but other perspectives on education, disability and children are also presented.