At the core of any understanding about special education is a notion of ‘intervention’. If we address the idea of ‘special’, the multiple connotations of this word all contain a germ of change-there exists an educational context which is ‘special’ (out of the ordinary) which implies that practitioners (educators, special educators) must undertake some action to make the ‘special’ ‘ordinary’ (Dessent, 1987). Implicit in this underlying assumption, I would argue, is that ‘special’ equals ‘bad’ (a pathology) and the direction of change is from ‘bad’ to ‘good’ (remediating a pathology). An alternative view sees ‘special’ as ‘different’ which does not imply change at all but rather a celebration of that difference. The two positions have validity in the way that children (or more generally, learners, if we are examining educational practice) are viewed, in that both positions are represented by different constituencies in the special educational world. Crucially, however, whichever view is held by the practitioner will affect what is done in practice for any given individual learner. Do we intervene and change, do we celebrate and stand back? How do we distinguish between these positions and how do we decide what we should do in

any given case? A theory of special education ought to provide principled ways of making such decisions and as such it should provide a theory of intervention.