It is generally taken for granted that human behavior distributes along the lines of a bell-shaped, normal curve. This idea underpins much educational theory, research, and practice. There is, however, a considerable body of research demonstrating that the normal curve grossly misrepresents the human experience. Yet the acceptance of the normal curve continues to be used to pathologize children and adults with disabilities by positioning them as abnormal. Collectively, the contributors to this volume critique the ideology of the normal curve. Some explicitly challenge the assumptions that underpin the normal curve. Others indirectly critique notions of normality by examining the impact of normal curve thinking on educational policies and practices. Many contributors go beyond critiquing the normal curve to propose alternative ways to imagine human differences. All contributors agree that the hegemony of the normal curve has had a devastating effect on those presumed to live on the boundaries of normal.
Curt Dudley-Marling was a special education teacher for seven years and also taught third grade. He is currently a professor in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College where he teaches courses on language and literacy. His scholarly interests include the social construction of school failure, classroom discourse, and disability studies. Alex Gurn is a Ph.D. candidate in curriculum and instruction at the Lynch School of Education, Boston College. His professional work experiences include work as a community-based educator, as a language teacher with high school and adult learners, and as an out-of-school time specialist for the Massachusetts Department of Education. His other research interests span the sociology of education, cultural studies, youth literacy practices in and out of educational institutions, and qualitative research methodologies.
Contents: Curt Dudley-Marling/Alex Gurn: Introduction: Living on the Boundaries of Normal - Curt Dudley-Marling/Alex Gurn: Troubling the Foundations of Special Education: Examining the Myth of the Normal Curve - Deborah Gallagher: Educational Researchers and the Making of Normal People - Brent Davis/Dennis Sumara: Decentralizations and Redistributions: A Complex Reading of Normality - Donaldo Macedo/Teresa Sorde Marti: Situating Labeling within an Ideological Framework - Steven A. Gelb: Evolutionary Anxiety, Monstrosity, and the Birth of Normality - Rebecca Rogers/ Michael Mancini: "Requires Medication to Progress Academically": The Discursive Pathways of ADHD - Eileen W. Ball/Beth Harry: Assessment and the Policing of the Norm - Arlette Ingram Willis: Miner's Canaries and Boiling Frogs: Fiction and Facts about Normalcy in Educational and Reading Assessment - Beth Ferri: A Dialogue We've Yet to Have: Race and Disability Studies - Felicity A. Crawford/Lilia I. Bartolome: Labeling and Treating Linguistic Minority Students with Disabilities as Deficient and Outside the Normal Curve: A Pedagogy of Exclusion - Michael Gill: Sex Education and Young Adults with Intellectual Disabilities: Crisis Response, Sexual Diversity, and Pleasure - Jan Valle/Susan Gabel: The Sirens of Normative Mythology: Mother Narratives of Engagement and Resistance - Bernadette Macartney: Living on the Edge of the Normal Curve: "It's Like a Smack in the Head" - Gerald Campano/Rob Simon: Practitioner Research as Resistance to the "Normal Curve" - Alex Gurn: Conclusion: Re/visioning the Ideological Imagination in (Special) Education.