Applying the concept of quality of life to Israeli special education programs: A national curriculum for enhanced autonomy in students with special needs

Shunit Reiter, Robert L. Schalock

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


    This study provides a description of the design and development of guidelines and programs for a national core curriculum for special education in Israel. Israel was exposed during the 1970s to the ideology of normalization. Later on, toward the end of the 1980s, the concept of quality of life was added. Several research studies were conducted, resulting in the following core ideas about education: a shift of emphasis from teaching independent-living skills to teaching autonomy, self-awareness, self-direction, and interdependence is required. On the basis of these ideas, a new model of instruction was devised and termed the 'cycle of internalized learning' (CIL). The CIL is based on a holistic orientation toward the student and builds on abilities rather than disabilities. The peer group is the basic unit of instruction. Attention is on processes and outcomes. The CIL involves several clearly defined teaching steps: (i) opening - the presentation of the subject matter; (ii) discussion - a conceptual analysis of the subject; (iii) open conversation - students discuss the issues they raised during the first session, express their personal life experiences while applying the new concepts they learned, and suggest possible solutions to problems; (iv) trying out the solutions suggested by students; and (v) repeated discussions, to arrive at personal and social conclusions. Currently there are three published units of the CIL: (i) Social Education, (ii) Career Education, and (iii) Towards Leaving Home for Independent Living in the Community. The fourth unit, on citizenship education through the use of computers, is in its final stages of preparation. The success of the implementation of the program is expressed both at the students' level - as an enhanced sense of self-worth and self-confidence, as well as enhanced academic achievements and social skills - and at the teachers' level - as a paradigm shift from a medical model of approach to students with disabilities to a social and humanistic one.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)13-21
    Number of pages9
    JournalInternational Journal of Rehabilitation Research
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Mar 2008


    • Curriculum
    • Israel
    • Quality of life
    • Special education

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Rehabilitation
    • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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