2013. Vol.4, No.8, 509-513
Published Online August 2013 in SciRes (http://www.scirp.org/journal/ce) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ce.2013.48074
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s . 509
Suggestions for a Teacher Training Program for Inclusive
Education in a Japanese University
Department of Developmental Disorders, National Institute of Mental Health,
National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, Tokyo, Japan
Received June 3rd, 2013; revised July 3rd, 2013; accepted July 10th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Junichi Takahashi. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons At-
tribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited.
Inclusive education has been recently proposed in primary and secondary educations in many countries.
Children who need special education support should be educated together with typically developing chil-
dren in general classes. Although many studies have examined the effectiveness of inclusive education,
researchers have pointed out that some general education teachers experience problems in their relation-
ships with children who have disabilities such as developmental disorders and intellectual disabilities. In
this paper, we review teacher training programs in a Japanese university and offer suggestions to enhance
teachers’ relationships with disabled children. In our discussion, we focused on adult attachment theory,
which is an affective connection and interactions between self and others. First, we reviewed the impor-
tance of teachers’ relationships with disabled children. Second, we reviewed attachment theories with re-
spect to the quality of teacher-child relationships, and lastly, we proposed that adult attachment theory is a
mediator in the quality of teacher-child relationships. We proposed a direction for the application of these
conceptual assumptions to the teacher-training program for inclusive education in a Japanese university.
Keywords: Inclusive Education; Developmental Disorders; Intellectual Disability; Adult Attachment
Theory; Teacher-Child Relationships
In Japan, 0.6% (60,302) of all children in primary and sec-
ondary schools attended special support schools and 1.2%
(124,166) of all children attended special support classes in ge-
neral schools in 2008 (MEXT: Ministry of Education, Culture,
Sports, Science, and Technology). The educational system re-
quiring compulsory education for children needing special
education began in 1979. Thereafter, with all disabled children
receiving compulsory education, the number of children who
attend special support schools has continued to increase. This
educational system would separate children with disabilities
from regular schools. A portion of the School Education Act
was revised in 2007 with regard to the educational system’s
support for children with special needs. The education for chil-
dren with disabilities extended to the community in addition to
services received at special support schools. These changes
have been supported by efforts toward normalization and inclu-
Internationally, inclusive education is increasingly seen more
broadly as a reform of educational systems (UNESCO, 2001).
The efforts of government, school boards, principals, and tea-
chers are needed to facilitate inclusive education. Specifically,
teachers should be willing to acquire the knowledge and skills
necessary to adapt their teaching to all children, including those
with and without a disability (Pivik, McComas, & Laflamme,
2002). However, some studies have pointed out problems with
inclusive education. The instruction methods of general edu-
cation teachers require adaptation for children with disabilities
(i.e., those with intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder,
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, and learning
disability), because teachers must conduct measurements of
children’s behavior and their symptoms and develop interven-
tion plans based on these symptoms (Koegel, Matos-Freden,
Lang, & Koegel, 2012). In this situation, teachers are challeng-
ed to establish positive relationships with children with disabi-
lities. However, children with disabilities, such as autism spec-
trum disorder have difficulty with social interaction and are un-
interested in interacting with others (Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision;
DSM-IV-TR, 2000). Since general education teachers have often
had less training in techniques for working with disabled chil-
dren, they have problems in these relationships. Although some
previous studies have examined the effectiveness of teachers’
relationships with disabled children, the investigations have
been limited (Robertson, Chamberlain, & Kasari, 2003). In par-
ticular, the findings of few studies on teachers’ relationships
with disabled children have been applied in university teacher-
training programs (Koegel et al., 2012). In order to contribute
to solutions to this problem, we reviewed the previous studies
that examined teachers’ relationships with children with dis-
abilities. We focused on adult attachment theory (i.e., teachers’
attachment style) in teacher-child relationships and provided
directions for the application of knowledge about teachers’ at-
tachment styles to the teacher-training programs in a Japanese
Teacher-Child Relationships Affect Children’s
Teachers’ Relationships with Typically
Positive teacher-child relationships in the early grades pre-
dict school success and adjustment of children in later grades
(e.g., Hamre & Pianta, 2001; Pianta & Stuhlman, 2004). To
examine the quality of teacher-child relationships, researchers
frequently have adopted the questionnaire method by using the
STRS (Student-Teacher Relationship Scale: Pianta, 2001). This
questionnaire assesses the affective quality of caregiving rela-
tionships in primary and secondary education and is used to
determine teachers’ perceptions of their relationships with indi-
vidual children. Previous studies have examined teacher-child
relationships in primary and secondary schools (Baker, 1998,
2006; Birch & Ladd, 1997, 1998; Howes & Ritchie, 1999;
Hughes, Cavell, & Jackson, 1999; Pianta, 1999, 2001). These
studies consistently indicated that close relationships with tea-
chers are associated with positive school adjustment. Baker
(2006) examined the influence of teacher-child relationships on
school adjustment with 1310 elementary school students and
found that the quality of teacher-child relationships was associ-
ated with academic indicators of school adjustment and success
in formative elementary-school-aged and older students. Hughes
et al. (1999) examined the influence of teacher-child relation-
ship quality on children’s aggression levels across 3 academic
years. Behavioral descriptions of aggression included “picks on
other children,” “starts fig hts,” “teases,” “tells lies about others,”
and “excludes others from their group.” Results showed that the
teacher-child relationship could predict the developmental tra-
jectory of aggressive children. The quality of the teacher-child
relationship in the first academic year predicted teachers’ rat-
ings of aggression the next year. Less aggression was associ-
ated with positive teacher-child relationships in the next aca-
Teachers’ Relationships with Disabled Children
The importance of teacher-child relationships in general
classes also applies to children with disabilities as a precondi-
tion for the children’s quality of life and the reduction of prob-
lem behaviors (e.g., Hastings, 2005; Schuengel, Kef, Damen, &
Worm, 2010), as reported by many previous studies (Blacher,
Baker, & Eisenhower, 2009; Eisenhower, Baker, & Blacher,
2007; Lang, Marlow, Goodman, Meltzer, & Ford, 2013; Libbet,
2004; Mclntyre, Blacher, & Baker, 2006; Robertson et al., 2003;
Roeden, Maaskant, Koomen, Candel, & Curfs, 2012). Eisen-
hower et al. (2007) showed that the quality of teacher-child re-
lationships was lower for 6-year-old children with intellectual
disability compared with typically developing children. Inter-
estingly, Blacher et al. (2009) followed the Eisenhower et al.
(2007) sample over the subsequent 2 years and examined
whether the teacher-child relationship quality would be stable
over time and whether the lower quality of teacher-child rela-
tionships among children with intellectual disability would
continue over time. Results showed that the quality of teacher-
child relationships was moderately stable with typically devel-
oping children, but it was not with intellectually disabled chil-
dren. Specifically, lower quality teacher-child relationships
con-tinued over the subsequent 2 years. Robertson et al. (2003)
investigated the quality of teacher-child relationships with chil-
dren with autism spectrum disorders. They found that children
with autism spectrum disorder formed multidimensional rela-
tionships with their general education teachers to a degree that
was modulated by the children’s problem behavior and level of
inclusion in the class. Importantly, the children’s problem be-
havior was lessened when their general education teacher per-
ceived positive relationships with them.
Previous studies found that adult attachment styles for teach-
ers in primary and secondary schools modulated the teacher-
children relationships (Riley, 2009). Moreover, dimensions of
the STRS questionnaire are based on concepts from attachment
theory (Roeden et al., 2012). In our next topic, we review at-
tachment theory and discuss the application of attachment the-
ory to teacher-child relationships in inclusive education.
The Influence of Teachers’ Attachment Style on
Attachment Theory in Typically Developing Children
Attachment is an affective connection that is typically de-
veloped through interactions between children and a mother
figure (Bowlby, 1969). Attachment relationships are based on
an internal representation (IWM: internal working model) that
represents how others will perceive and interact with an indi-
vidual beyond early childhood. Children derive their sense of
self-efficacy from their IWM: positive representations provide
good self-efficacy, whereas negative representations provide
poor self-efficacy. The magnitude of children’s attachment has
been measured by the Strange Situation Procedure (SSP: Ains-
worth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1989). The SSP is an experi-
mental design in which researchers observe children’s behavior
toward their parent after a short separation. According to the
children’s responses, they are generally classified into one of
three attachment styles: secure, anxious, or avoidant. Children
with a secure attachment style do not show resistant behaviors
toward their parent after a short separation, whereas children
with an anxious style desire proximity to their parent but si-
multaneously resist their parent’s attempts at affection. Chil-
dren with an avoidant style display avoidant behaviors and do
not to seek the proximity of their parent. In general, estimates
are that 65% of children have a secure attachment style, 15%
have an anxious attachment style, and 20% are avoidant (Van
IJzendoorn, Goldberg, Kroonenberg, & Frenkl, 1992).
Attachment Theory in Children with Developmental
Disorders and Intellectual Disability
Regarding the attachment styles of children with develop-
mental disorders (especially autism spectrum disorders), a me-
ta-analysis (Rutgers, Bakermans-Kranenburg, Van IJzendoorn,
& Van Berckelaer-Onnes, 2004) indicated that children with
autism spectrum disorder exhibit a secure attachment style to
about the same degree as normally developing children. Using
the SSP method, 53% (40% - 63%) of children with autism
spectrum disorder were classified as having a secure attachment
style. On the basis of these results and in terms of attachment
formation, children with an autism spectrum disorder might
show the same development as normally developing children
(Dissanayake & Crossley, 1997).
In contrast, children with autism spectrum disorder and in-
tellectual disability generally show a different attachment-style
tendency (Carvill, 2001; Clegg & Sheard, 2002; De Schipper,
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s .
Stolk, & Schuengel, 2006; De Schipper & Schuengel, 2010;
Schuengel, et al., 2010). Rogers, Ozonoff, & Maslin-Cole
(1991) indicated that differences in attachment style compared
with typically developing children were caused by their level of
cognitive ability. Similar indications were proposed by Schip-
per et al. (2006), who reported that attachment behavior varied
depending on children’s diagnoses. The risk of problem behav-
ior in children with intellectual disability was about three times
greater than that of typically developing children (Baker, Mcin-
tyre, Blacher, Crnic, Edelbrock, & Low, 2003). Both teachers
and parents report many of the same problem behaviors and
lack of social skills (Gagon, Vitaro, & Tremblay, 1992). In chil-
dren with intellectual disability, the form of attachment rela-
tionships with parents at home is likely to carry over to tea-
cher-child relationships in school (O’Connor & McCartney,
2006). Parents of children with intellectual disabilities generally
have negative parent-child relationships. Thus, problem behav-
iors and early parent-child relationships in the home could pre-
dict the quality of teacher-child relationships in school (Eisen-
hower et al., 2007). Considering these indications, as reported
by Rogers et al. (1991), the child’s IQ level would mainly af-
fect attachment-style differences between children with typical
development, developmental disorders, and intellectual disabi-
Attachment Theory in Children Extended to Adult
Many studies have indicated that child attachment theory can
be extended to adult attachment theory through the life span
(e.g., Ainsworth, 1989; Hazan & Shaver, 1987; Murphy &
Bates, 1997). In order to measure adult attachment, Hazan and
Shaver (1987) developed the Attachment Style Questionnaire
(ECR: Experiences in Close Relationships, Brennan, Clark, &
Shaver, 1998). This questionnaire is a self-report measure com-
posed of three short paragraphs that correspond to the three
attachment styles from the SSP method (i.e., secure, anxious,
and avoidant). Bartholomew and Horowitz (1991) recently pro-
posed an additional four categories that could be logically de-
rived by combining two levels of “self-representation” (posi-
tive or negative) with two levels of “others-representation” (po-
sitive or negative) in adult attachment theory. The self-repre-
sentation model reflects anxiety about closeness (i.e., whether
the self is worthy of support), and the others-representation
model reflects avoidance of intimacy (i.e., whether others are
seen as trustworthy). Bartholomew and Horowitz (1991) con-
ceptualized four styles based on these two axes: secure, preoc-
cupied, fearful, and dismissing. The secure style has positive
self- and others-representations. These individuals feel that the
self is worthy and others are accepting, suggesting that secure
individuals are neither anxious about abandonment nor avoi-
dant of intimacy (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991). Related to
these characteristics, secure individuals display better mental
health and positive self-perception (Kanemasa & Daibo, 2003).
Preoccupied individuals have a negative self-representation but
positive others-representation. These individuals feel that the
self is not worthy but that others are accepting. Dismissing in-
dividuals have a positive self-representation but negative others-
representation. These individuals sense that the self is worthy
but that others are not accepting. In order to protect themselves
against disappointment, dismissing individuals generally main-
tain independence and avoid close relationships with others
(Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991). Thus, although dismissing
individuals show high self-esteem (similar to secure individu-
als), their social interactions are poor (Wilkinson & Parry,
2004). Fearful individuals have negative self- and others-rep-
resentations. These individuals feel that the self is unworthy of
support and others are not generally accepting, suggesting that
they are anxious about abandonment and rejection; thus, fearful
individuals avoid intimacy. The Bartholomew and Horowitz
(1991) results classified their sample into the four attachment
styles as follows: secure (57%), preoccupied (10%), fearful
(15%), and dismissing (18%).
Adult Attachment Theory Underlying Social
Interaction Ability Affects Teacher-Child
Previous studies have generally indicated that adult attach-
ment style affects social interaction ability (DiTommaso, Bran-
nen-McNulty, Ross, & Burgess, 2003; Hori & Kobayashi, 2010;
Kanemasa, 2005, 2007; Kanemasa & Daibo, 2003; Takahashi,
Tamaki, & Yamawaki, i n pres s ; Tamaki & Takahashi, in press).
For example, Tamaki and Takahashi (in press) examined the
relationship between adult attachment style and social interac-
tion abilities in Japanese university students. Participants (N =
212, 110 men and 102 women) completed questionnaires on
both attachment style and social skills. Results showed that
those with dismissing and fearful styles had lower scores on
many social-skill subscales compared with those who had se-
cure and preoccupied styles. These results indicated that a ne-
gative others-representation attachment style affected to social-
skill scores. Considering these indications, a teacher’s attach-
ment style is related to social interaction ability and may be an
important factor in the teacher-child relationship. Specifically,
attachment relationships are important and potentially protec-
tive mechanisms including children’s behavior (Schipper et al.,
2006). Thus, positive relationships with teachers seem to play a
strong role for children with disabilities (Eisenhower, Baker, &
Blacher, 2007; Hamre & Pianta, 2001). However, to the best of
our knowledge, few studies have examined the effect of teach-
ers’ attachment styles on teacher-child relationships in inclusive
education settings serving children with disabilities. In the next
section, we discuss the application of our conceptual assump-
tions to teacher training programs.
Applying Adult Attachment Theory to Teacher
Training for Inclusive Education in a Japanese
In this section, we propose that adult attachment style should
be considered in teacher training for inclusive education.
Teachers should have the ability to interact socially with
children and to build good relationships with them (Eisenhower
et al., 2007; Hamre & Pianta, 2001). Considering that adult at-
tachment theory underlies social interaction ability, secure in-
dividuals might more easily build positive teacher-child rela-
tionships compared with insecure (preoccupied, dismissing, and
fearful) individuals because secure individuals hold positive
self- and others-representations (i.e., self is worthy, and others
are accepting), whereas insecure individuals hold negative self-
or others-representations (i.e., preoccupied: self is not worthy,
but others are accepting; dismissing: self is worthy, but others
are not accepting; and fearful: self is unworthy of support, and
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s . 511
others are not generally accepting). Positive self- and others-
representations are associated with good mental health (e.g.,
DiTommaso et al., 2003) and social interaction ability (e.g.,
Tamaki & Takahashi, in press). Thus, a teacher’s attachment
style is important and is a potential protective mechanism in
teacher-child relationships (Schipper et al., 2006).
Previous studies have indicated that adult attachment styles
might vary depending on interpersonal relationships and cir-
cumstances through the life span, such as love relationships or
major life transitions (e.g., Bowlby, 1988). Moreover, psycho-
therapy has led to significant changes toward increased secure
attachment (e.g., Lawson, Barnes, Madkins, & Francios-La-
monte, 2006; Travis, Binder, Bliwise, & Horne-Moyer, 2001).
For example, Travis et al. (2001) conducted time-limited dyna-
mic psychotherapy (see Strupp & Binder, 1984) and compared
pre- and post-treatment attachment styles. Results showed that
a significant number of clients changed from an insecure at-
tachment style to a secure attachment style. Similar results were
obtained by using group therapy (Lawson et al., 2006).
The teacher training course in a Japanese university is gener-
ally conducted as follows: second-year undergraduates receive
instruction before visiting schools, third-year undergraduates
receive instruction before they practice teaching, and fourth-
year undergraduates receive instruction after they practice tea-
ching. On the basis of adult attachment theory as proposed by
previous studies (Bowlby, 1988; Lawson et al., 2006; Travis et
al., 2001), we suggest measuring adult attachment style for uni-
versity students enrolled in a teacher-training course and com-
paring the attachment styles between pre-teaching practice in
the third undergraduate year and post-teaching practice in the
fourth undergraduate year. Efforts might be needed to help
students with insecure attachment styles to attain a secure style
before they begin their teaching practice in their third year. A
similar study method has been used in Japanese university
teacher-training courses with regard to various viewpoints, such
as teaching competence or motivation for becoming a teacher
(e.g., Imae & Shimizu, 1994; Koizumi, 2008). We propose that
adult attachment style is also an important factor to be consid-
ered in a teacher-training program.
In this paper, we have identified potential problems with tea-
cher-child relationships involving disabled children being serv-
ed in inclusive education. We reviewed previous studies that
examined the connection between teacher-child relationships
and children’s school adjustment and between teacher-child re-
lationships and adult attachment style. From these indications,
we pointed out the importance of teachers’ attachment style in
teacher-child relationships in inclusive education. Future re-
search might provide evidence that teachers’ attachment style is
a potent factor in teacher-child relationships in inclusive educa-
tion. Depending on the evidence of future studies, teacher-
training programs for inclusive education can be facilitated by
considering teachers’ attachment styles.
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