As Selcuklu Special Education Vocational School, 175 special education students (mildly diagnosed with mental disability) are educated in 16 classes and 7 workshops in 5 different fields to prepare them for work and profession. In order to make our workshops more functional in our schools, we went to Germany as a project partner 3-4 years ago and, unlike our country, we had the opportunity to see and examine the work done for the preparation of special students for work and profession. When we returned to our country, we exchanged ideas about how we could adapt these studies in our school and in our country, and our idea of producing educational material for furniture classes in special workshops was deemed appropriate in our Provincial Directorate of National Education and our ministry. We have produced 80 sets of 14 different products to the Provincial Directorate of National Education, and 120 sets of 24 different products to the General Directorate of Special Education and Guidance Services in the Furniture Workshop and produced training materials in 81 provinces and distributed to special education schools and classes. From this point of view, a group of 7 teachers from our institution during the 2018-1-TR01-KA101-052199 project, which was accepted by the National Agency of the European Union during the 2018 Proposal period, was organized by the Austrian capital Vienna between 08-14 April 2019. We participated in the training activity until noon on the course for 5 days. In the afternoons, we took part in historical and cultural trips to better understand the culture and language of Austria. We also visited the public school one day and a private school supported by the church foundation.
In the course provided by the counseling center, they also provided information about special education in Austria, how the individual's education started from birth, how diagnostic activities were performed, which schools according to the disability groups received which disability groups were trained, and the special education policies of their states. We have compared some special education activities in our country and observed that some applications are the same as our country and some applications differ. Ex: In the private sector in our country, special education activities are carried out through special education and rehabilitation centers, while in Vienna we have learned that this service is provided through consultancy companies and private schools. In our country, behavior disorder is not accepted as a type of disability while Vienna is seen as a separate disability group. In the counseling center, we saw how they advised mental, autistic, hearing and visually impaired people for different disability groups and what educational materials they used according to the disability groups. They showed how they actively use colors in learning, Montessori theory, physical contact, concept teaching, reading and writing teaching, and mathematics skills learning with materials. They stated that the materials designed for special education students were not only used for students with special educational needs but also applied to lower-age students for normal students.
With this project, knowledge and equipment competencies were observed regarding the material applications used in special education both in our country and in Austria and compared, and awareness was raised on the importance of material production for students in need of special education. It has been observed that the production of materials between special education students and teachers working positively contributes to the learning process of the students in the course, and the effective use of different materials in the course has a positive effect on the teachers' professional self-perception and their adaptation to the special students. It has contributed to the preparation and production of new and different special educational materials both in our workshops and in the scope of the course preparation with the efforts of the teachers.
We have seen that both the education we received and the school visits we made have shown that according to scientific and academic research, the use of materials in education has a positive contribution to education and teaching; We have observed that it embodies the subjects, enables students to learn by doing, arouses interest and attention to the lessons, makes learning easy and enjoyable, and increases student achievement. This situation is more important for the education of students who need special education. The consensus was reached between the participating teachers and the Austrian teachers that we were involved in the project and visit in the project about the views that learning process would be easier, faster and more enjoyable as the diversity of materials was increased in the education of mentally disabled individuals with poor understanding and comprehension skills.
The project aims to recognize the special educational materials used in Europe and to develop and adapt them to our workshops in our school. In this way, our school will contribute to the realization of a special education target above European standards by catching or improving European standards in special education by pioneering the use of new and functional materials in our province and in our country. The development of new materials in the learning and teaching activities of people with disabilities will significantly improve the applicability of curriculum programs.