Bettina Lindmeier: Experiencing History: Treatment of People with Intellectual Disabilities during the NS-ERA
Discrimination against persons with disabilities has been a major issue in European history. The UN Convention on the rights of people with disabilities has had a big impact on the change of discriminatory laws. To change discriminatory practices, the rise of awareness as to where and when discrimination occurs will be crucial.
Through learning in heterogeneous groups, students should reflect on their beliefs about inclusive pedagogy and their own prejudices against persons with disabilities.
Limited curricula and with three quarters of students with special needs attending special schools, suggest their limited capacity to learn and participate. Most teachers of students are supportive of inclusion but do not know how to deal with heterogeneous groups. Moreover, they share common prejudices on persons with disabilities.
The project deals with the treatment of people with intellectual disabilities during the NS-era. Each term 10 Students and 10 adults with intellectual disabilities work together in different forms: plenum discussions, group work e.g. reconstructing victims’ biographies, and a 2-day excursion to the memorial at Hadamar. We evaluated group discussions, covering views on learning, people with disabilities, discrimination, NS-crimes and inclusion.
The study project changed the views on learning in mixed groups, and the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities. Students rated the seminar more positively than other courses offered and showed high gains in reflexivity and knowledge.
\High quality learning experiences in heterogeneous groups are suitable to promote a change in students’ perception of inclusive pedagogy and on discriminatory practices occurring in schools and higher education.