The organization of special education is conditioned by the specific learning difficulties in disabled children. It demands an engagement of special means in order to create the optimum conditions adjusted to the possibilities and needs of mentally disabled children. Such needs are frequently very different from those of children in generally accessible schools. Also the handbooks addressed to this group of pupils should have a different structure and differently fulfill their didactic functions. Unfortunately, in the available literature there have been no broader elaborations undertaking those questions and the research results presented in this book, their interpretation and suggestion concerning optimization of the structure and the ways of using a school handbook can be a source of information useful for handbook writers as well as for students and
teachers undertaking the effort of educating pupils with minor mental disabilities. The problems taken up in the first part of the book constitute a theoretical context of the research. It oscillates around the notion of "handbook", its structure and the functions fulfilled in the educational process. Further on the author characterizes the learning process of handbook's address. Using a handbook is closely connected with the ability to read, and a discussion of this skill must be considered to be a significant element of the characterization of pupils with minor mental disabilities. What complements the theoretical context is a draft of
the organization and the basic principles present in the education of the mentally disabled as well as an attempt at formulating the potential dependencies which condition an effective use of handbook it the type of education under discussion. The methodological construction of the work implicates the division of the functions of
a handbook into assumed and real. The former ones have been determined on the basis of the analysis of contents of methodological manuals and teaching programs, and more precisely on the basis of considering the information on the task of handbooks and the activities suggested to teachers and pupils as regards their use. The latter have been determined on the basis of the actual use of handbooks in class and the changes in pupils' minds caused by their use. In addition a lot of attention has been devoted to the internal structure of handbooks (i.e. the information contents) as well as their external structure (i.e. the form in which the information is presented). Structure was analyzed in handbooks for Polish, history, geography and biology
used in the higher forms of special primary schools. An immanent part of the research is also the formulation of the conditions of an effective use of handbooks among which the author has counted: the level of the skill of reading, handbook structure, ways of working with the handbook and the scope and kind of other didactic means supporting the education of children with minor mental disabilities. In his generalizing considerations the author has shown that the anticipated functions in methodology manuals and teaching programs are different from the actual functions realized in teaching practice. This divergence is one of the reasons of the decrease of the real value of the didactic means discussed. In addition, according to the author, it is worth to suggest numerous postulates in connection with the construction of handbooks which is not always adjusted to
the possibilities and the educational needs of mentally disabled children as well as to the ways of their use in particular didactic situations. A natural consequence of the indicated deficiencies is a list of hints serving the purpose of optimization of the use of handbooks which is referred to defined phases of the learning process
and presented in detail in the final part of the work.